The paid sick leave law wave continues across the U.S.

Prior to 2014, there were only a few paid sick leave laws in effect nationwide. In the past two years, that number has exploded to more than 30 laws, covering five states and more than 25 cities and counties. In addition, as mentioned in the October 2015 issue of HR Focus, President Obama signed an executive order requiring that federal contractors and their subcontractors provide paid sick leave to their employees who are performing work on covered contracts beginning in 2017.

The intent of these paid sick leave laws is to guarantee workers paid sick days each year for personal or family illness. The laws vary on a number of details, including:

  • Which employers are covered
  • Which employees are covered
  • How much time is required
  • When the employee is eligible to use accrued hours
  • What and for whom the hours can be used for
  • Whether unused hours be carried over to the following year
  • Whether unused hours can be forfeited
  • How the paid sick leave requirements work with a PTO plan

While most employers offer paid time off as part of their total rewards strategy and as a way to attract new talent, they must continuously review their paid sick leave or paid time off (PTO) policies to ensure they meet the provisions of mandatory paid sick leave laws. Employers with employees located in multiple states need to pay close attention to each jurisdiction’s laws and determine how to respond to these variations from a policy and enforcement standpoint. This may require a strategic choice, as follows:

  • Adopting a single company-wide set of policies based on the most generous jurisdiction, which may provide administrative simplicity but increased cost, or
  • To adopt tailored policies for each state or local ordinance and continue to stay current as new paid sick leave laws are passed.

What to do

Here are five paid sick leave tips to consider when a paid sick leave law applies to your company:

Review your sick leave policy

Don’t assume that because the company already offers a paid sick leave policy, it is automatically in compliance with the law. Confirm usage terms, accrual, coverage, carry over, vesting rules, etc.

Determine if a PTO policy is best

Decide whether lumping vacation, personal and sick leave together would be better for your organization, and for which employee groups, if applicable.

Determine if a one-size-fits-all policy makes sense

Determine which employees work in locations with paid sick leave laws and consider whether a one-size-fits-all policy or location-specific policies would be better for your organization.

Review notice requirements

Review employee notice requirements (include workplace posters and paystub requirements).

Update your handbook

Update your employee handbook and distribute to employees.

Even if your state has no paid sick leave law, it never hurts to review your paid leave programs. Make sure that a written policy for your paid leave benefits is in place and makes sense to your employees.

Paid sick leave laws across the U.S.

HR Corner Table 400In case you need a reminder, at right is a list of paid sick leave laws enacted for entire states and specific cities and counties. This list continues to grow.

It’s important for employers to comply with both state and local leave laws. For example, if an organization has employees throughout California, it would need to look at both state and local laws to ensure its policy meets the provisions of the laws. This could mean that a city law may be more generous than the state law. Note that Connecticut’s paid sick leave law applies to service employees only (i.e. waiters, cashiers, hairstylists) and a few local ordinances apply to specific workers such as those working in hotels.

States banning paid sick leave laws

There are 14 states that ban local governments from passing paid sick leave laws:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee

For more information on the paid sick leave law trend see Navigating the paid sick leave law trend: Are you keeping up?

About Marina Galatro

Marina A. Galatro, PHRca, SHRM-CP, is a Senior Human Resources Consultant and HR Partner at Willis Towers Watson's…
Categories: Employee Wellbeing | Tags: , ,

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