Why Paid Sick Leave Is Becoming More Popular

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We’ve all seen it — an employee has a bad cold, maybe even the flu, but they come to work anyway. In some cases, the employee has the option of taking time off, and their employer would prefer they do so, but still they show up, putting everyone in the workplace at risk. The reasons vary. Sometimes the employee can’t afford the reduced hours. Sometimes they can take the financial hit, but they’re worried about falling behind on their projects, missing an important meeting, or looking bad next to their co-workers who never seem to take a day off.

Some employers encourage sick employees to stay home and rest. To that end, they offer paid sick or personal time so that employees who already feel lousy don’t have to suffer the stress of a smaller paycheck. While paid leave doesn’t work 100% to keep sick employees home, it helps. In fact, more and more states have passed laws requiring employers to offer paid sick leave.

@RealThinkHR has the steps to take when state-specific #PaidSickLeave laws are passed in an employer’s state: Click To Tweet

The paid sick leave laws passed so far share some common elements. Employers are typically required to offer an hour of paid sick leave for a certain number of hours worked per week (usually 30 or 40). They allow employees to use paid sick leave to care for a family member, and most allow the time to be used in case of domestic or sexual violence. The laws vary most — though still not dramatically — with respect to which employees are eligible and when, and what kind of documentation can be required to prove that employees used the leave for a permissible purpose.

If a paid sick leave law is enacted in an employer’s state, we recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Review all leave policies for compliance. While these laws will generally allow you to keep a current policy as long as it is at least as generous as required by the state law, you will need to comply with the various notice and recordkeeping requirements as well.
  2. Decide whether lumping vacation, personal, and sick leave together would be better for your organization and, if applicable, for which specific employee groups (you may want a lump sum policy for full-time employees and an hour-by-hour accrual system for part-timers).
  3. Determine which employees work in places with paid sick leave laws and consider whether a one-size-fits-all policy or location-specific policies would be better.
  4. Confirm that usage terms, accrual, coverage, carry-over, and any vesting rules meet minimum requirements.
  5. Review the employee notice; the law may require a poster, written policy, notice on employee paystubs of time accrued, or all of those.
  6. Update your handbook and distribute it to employees.

We all know HR changes — and that includes laws that will directly affect your clients. That’s why a living handbook is an essential artifact to an effective people risk management strategy as state and federal policies evolve. Request a consultation with ThinkHR to add a living handbook to your offering.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is an HR certified professional author, editor, and researcher specializing in workplace culture, retention strategies, and the employee experience. He has previously worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, nationally-known business leaders, and non-profit organizations. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, The Week, and elsewhere.

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