Paid time off for vacation, personal days, and sick time is a standard element of most employee benefit packages. With the increasing national discussion on paid leave, it is a good idea to ensure your company not only offers an adequate amount but is also compliant with the respective state laws. Sick time acknowledges the reality of personal or family illness and demonstrates a measure of compassion for an employee’s need for time away. It also provides an incentive to stay home when you don’t want anyone else at the workplace getting sick.
Paid sick time covers a number of circumstances, including but not limited to:
- Care for the employee or family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, health condition, or treatment for same
- Care for an infant or newly adopted or foster child under 18
- Care for a child over 18 if that child is incapable of self-care due to a physical or mental impairment
- Recovery from, or treatment for, a condition that renders the employee incapable of performing at least one essential job function
- Bereavement for death of a family member and attending to funeral and burial arrangements
- Medical treatment, legal advice, and law enforcement intervention related to domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, etc.
- Public health emergencies
When developing sick time policies, firms need to comply with the prevailing state laws. By way of illustration, here are some of the requirements for firms operating with 10 or more employees in Oregon:
- Employees start to accrue sick time on the first day of employment – one hour for every 30 hours worked – and may use those hours after 90 days of employment.
- At their option, employers may satisfy their sick time accrual obligations by granting the appropriate number of hours as a lump sum at the start of a 12-month. Employers may choose this option as an extra benefit for employees or to reduce their administrative overhead.
- Employees must use their accrued sick time in hourly increments unless such use creates a hardship on their employers. In such cases, the minimum increment could be increased to four hours so long as the employer would support 56 or more hours of paid leave in a 12-month period.
- Employees may carry up to 40 hours of sick time from one year to the next; employers can limit this carryover to a maximum of 80 hours.
- If the form has such a policy, employees may also use their sick time by donating it to another employee for qualifying purposes.
- Employees must receive updates on the accrued and used sick time no less frequently than once per quarter.
- If employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the provisions of that agreement take precedence.
Firms operating in multiple states may have several distinct requirements to fulfill. Management may choose to create policies at the intersection of all such requirements or provide differential treatment based on employee location. The latter adds complexity to administrative functions and may result in morale issues.
If you haven’t done so for a few years, take the time to understand your obligations and make adjustments to your sick time policies, as needed. Be sure to communicate any changes to your employees and follow up with your payroll processing company to institute them.