Paid sick-leave laws dictate what eligible employees can expect if they call in sick this winter. Are you prepared?
Cue the sneezing, coughing, red noses, and watery eyes. It’s flu season, which means you are likely have employees calling in because they or family members are sick. Make sure you know relevant state and local paid-sick-leave statutes; and clarify who is covered, the rates at which sick leave is accrued, and the waiting periods before paid sick leave is available.
Paid sick-leave laws provide paid days off for employees to:
· Recuperate from an illness, including the flu.
· Care for a family member with a short-term illness.
· Attend routine medical appointments for themselves or a family member.
States that currently have paid sick-leave laws are:
· Massachusetts (effective April 1)
· New Jersey
· Rhode Island
Additionally, eight cities have enacted paid sick-leave laws:
· Los Angeles
· New York City
· San Diego
· Washington, D.C.
There also are several jurisdictions in Washington (state), Minnesota, California, New York, Maryland, and Puerto Rico with specific laws. If you have offices/facilities in more than one state, city, or jurisdiction, it’s important to comply with the laws in each location. Generally, employers are considered to be in compliance if they provide paid time off that is at least as generous as required by law.
These state and local laws must be followed in addition to federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, it’s important to realize that if the flu lasts more than three days and other criteria are met (such as visits to a provider, a prescription or shot, and/or an overnight hospital stay), it could be considered a “serious health condition” under the FMLA However, for those employees who self-care without seeking medical treatment, the flu may not be covered by the FMLA. The flu generally doesn’t last long enough to be considered a covered disability under the ADA.
The flu is expected to be widespread this year in many parts of the country, so now is a good time to review with employees their rights and responsibilities regarding sick leave and what they should do if they get sick. Review infection control measures—including handwashing and the use of masks or gloves—so that everyone plays an active role in preventing the spread of flu and other illnesses.