July 18, 2018

Paid sick leave continues to trend across the U.S. – here’s what you need to know

Over the past several years many states and cities have enacted legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees. Juggling their varied and complex requirements can present a challenge. Here, Compliance Counsel Kelly Dougherty breaks down what you need to know.

Over the past several years many states and cities have enacted legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees. This trend is continuing in 2018, with Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington adding state-wide paid sick leave laws. Austin, Texas and Duluth, Minnesota also both recently passed paid sick leave laws.  

The paid sick leave trend is gaining momentum across the U.S. because it gives employees time to take care of their own health and that of their family without fear of losing their job or going without pay. Although hotly debated in some legislatures, the trend toward requiring paid sick leave is expected to continue, due in part to the fact that there is no federal paid sick leave requirement for employers.  

Paid sick leave laws have some common requirements:

  • Coverage: The laws generally outline which employers and employees are covered by the paid sick leave requirements. Sometimes coverage can be broad and far reaching. Coverage may depend on the geographic location of employees or employers, or the size of an employer. Some laws even consider telecommuters, virtual employees, and the residency of employees in determining who is covered by the law.
  • Accrual: Most of the laws use an accrual structure for awarding paid sick leave hours to employees. Accruals typically begin near the start of employment and are structured with a certain number of hours accrued based on how many hours the employee works. For example, one hour accrued for every 30 hours worked.
  • Caps/limits: Most of the laws have some type of cap on the number of paid sick leave hours that can be accrued and carried over from year to year.
  • Frontloading: Many of the paid sick leave laws allow for frontloading or lump sum awards of paid sick leave hours instead of requiring employers to provide paid sick leave hours on an accrual basis.
  • Rate of sick pay: The laws generally address the rate of pay required for the paid sick leave hours, but these rates vary across different jurisdictions and are not always the same as the rate of pay required for hours worked under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  
  • Reinstatement: Many of the laws require that where an employee is separated from employment with a company for a short period of time, and is later re-hired, the accrued but unused sick leave hours must be reinstated.

Each paid sick leave law is unique, and conflicting requirements may sometimes exist where an employee is covered by more than one law (e.g., a state law and a local law). This presents a compliance challenge for employers managing their paid sick leave policies.  

What does this mean for employers?

We expect the trend for paid sick leave requirements to continue to gain momentum in the future, and as a result, employers should consider strategies for juggling the varied and complex requirements that may apply to them.

Employers may want to consider how they will coordinate paid sick leave with other types of leave (e.g., FMLA), whether they wish to offer an all-inclusive paid time off policy or a separate paid sick leave policy, and possibly even state-specific supplements to core employee handbooks. Considering this continuing trend, employers will want to keep an eye on existing and new sick leave requirements that apply to them and review or revise their paid leave policies and procedures, if necessary.

Want to learn more about paid leave laws, and strategies to help manage their requirements? Join Kelly on Wednesday, July 25 for a special webinar, What you need to know about new paid leave laws. Register now.


Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should review with your legal advisors how the laws identified in this post may apply to your specific situation.

Kelly Dougherty

Kelly Dougherty is Senior Compliance Counsel at Ceridian with years of employment law counseling and litigation experience. At Ceridian, Kelly enjoys tackling employment-related compliance issues in the HCM world and working to help develop cutting edge products.

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