Paid Sick Leave Trend

Earlier this year, President Obama called on Congress to enact a federal law requiring businesses to offer seven days of paid sick leave to workers, but the proposed law is unlikely to pass in the current political climate. Nevertheless, advocacy for paid sick leave has increased at the state level, and some of these efforts are proving successful.

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 every thirty hours worked or an amount not less than 40 hours per year. Nearly every paid sick leave law requires employees to be able to use paid sick leave for family care.

The various state laws also have their differences. Some states give employers multiple options to provide paid sick leave. California, for example, allows employers to choose between accrual and lump sum methods.

If a paid sick leave law is enacted in your state, we recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Review all current and new paid leave polices for compliance.

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

  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 requirements, e.g., paystubs and workplace posters.

  6. Update your handbook and distribute it to employees.

Even if your state has no paid sick leave law, it never hurts to review your paid leave programs. Make sure that your policy makes sense to employees—and to you! If your paid leave program is confusing to you as a manager, then it will undoubtedly confuse your employees. If you lack a written paid leave policy for your paid leave benefits, put one into place.

Stay tuned for additional information from the HR Support Center on this evolving issue.

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