Time & Attendance
By Gustav Anderson
May. 10, 2023
Paid sick leave refers to time off that workers can use if they are sick, injured, or require medical care. It can also be used when an employee needs to attend to a family member or loved one for medical reasons, including elder care or child care. Paid sick time also covers mental health and preventative care.
Some sick leave policies also cover leave when an employee or their loved one is a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.
Different countries around the world have varying laws and policies surrounding paid sick leave, including the number of days allocated to an employee every calendar year, whether they can carry over an accrual of unused sick leave, and differences in entitlement between full-time and part-time workers.
The United States is the only nation with an advanced economy that does not offer its workers federally mandated paid sick leave.
Although there are no legal requirements on a federal level, there are requirements that make it possible for some employees to take unpaid leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This is used for “certain medical situations for either the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family.”
Eligible employees are those who have worked with their current employer for at least a year and have done a minimum of 1,250 hours of work in the last 12 months.
But that doesn’t mean Americans go without any sick leave benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 77% of US workers in the private sector had access to paid sick leave in March 2022. This figure varies depending on the industry, and, in fact, 53% of people working in the leisure and hospitality sector have paid sick time.
As an employer or HR executive, you must first be aware if your state requires you to offer paid sick leave and under what conditions. If you’re not bound by law, sick leave is still something worth considering for the sake of your employees’ physical and mental well-being.
Research shows that 62% of US workers claim that they have worked while sick, and 92% said that they do so because they cannot afford to take an unpaid sick day.
This has led some states to implement their own sick time laws. Companies that fall outside of those states also have the option to implement their own policies.
There are currently 17 states, including Washington D.C., that have paid sick time laws. Click on your state to get a brief overview of what you need to know:
Every employer, regardless of size or industry, must offer paid sick time to employees. Accrual rates are as follows:
Employers are required to provide most employees with at least 24 hours or three days of PSL (Paid Sick Leave) per year. Eligible employees include full-time, part-time, and temporary workers who meet the following criteria:
Employers may offer sick leave in one lump sum, or they can set up an accrual plan where an employee must earn at least one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may cap sick time at 48 hours per year.
All employers are required to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 48 hours per year.
Sick leave may be used for any of the following:
Companies with 50 or more “service worker” employees must provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked, maxing out at 40 hours.
This law only applies to hourly “service workers.” Exempt, salaried, and day laborers are not legally entitled to paid sick leave.
“Service workers,” as defined by Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Act, are people who are paid on an hourly basis and are not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements of the FLSA.
Employers with 10 or more employees must provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, maxing out at 40 hours in a year. Workers can only use their leave after they have worked a minimum of 120 days.
Maine’s paid leave law is unique in that it is not limited to sick time – employees can use their accrued leave for any reason, including emergency, illness, sudden necessity, planned vacation, etc.
Employees are entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours every year. They are not allowed to use sick leave within their first 106 days of employment. Sick time cannot be carried over from a previous year.
Most employees earn up to 40 hours of sick time per year. They must earn at least one hour for every 30 hours worked.
Government employees and students who work for their college or university do not qualify for earned sick time.
According to the Paid Medical Leave Act, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked.
Employers cannot allow for accrual of over one hour a week or more than 40 hours in a year. Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave into a new year; however, they cannot use more than 40 hours of sick leave during that year.
This act does not cover overtime-exempt employees working in executive, administrative, and professional roles. Other ineligible employees include those covered by collective bargaining agreements and those employed by the US government.
Employers with 50 or more staff must provide .01923 hours of paid sick time for every hour of work performed. All employees, including part-time, are eligible for sick time. Hours may be frontloaded instead of accrued according to the discretion of the employer.
Employers of all sizes must provide up to 40 hours of sick leave per year. The accrual rate equals one hour of sick leave earned per 30 hours worked. Full and part-time employees are covered.
The following employees are not eligible for earned sick leave:
Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave into a new year; however, they cannot use more than 40 hours of sick leave during that year.
The Healthy Workplaces Act requires employers to offer one hour of paid sick leave (PSL) for every 30 hours worked. Both non-exempt and exempt employees are eligible for PSL.
While the accrual of PSL is unlimited, employers may cap its use to 64 hours per year. Employees may carry over unused PSL into the following year, and employers may frontload hours. If employers choose to front-load, they must continue to track accrual since PSL cannot be capped.
New York State’s paid sick leave laws came into effect on April 3, 2020. Private employers with five or more workers and a net income of more than $1 million have to provide paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than five workers and up to $1 million net income have to provide unpaid sick leave. Employees accrue leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.
Federal, state, and local government employees are not covered by this law.
Employees can make use of their paid sick leave through a verbal or written request for any of the following reasons:
*This includes using leave for the recovery of any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination.”
New York State also implements safe leave laws to cover time off when an employee or their family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual violence, stalking, or human trafficking.
The time off, in this case, can be used for a number of reasons, such as to seek help from a domestic violence shelter, meet with an attorney or social services, or file a complaint with law enforcement.
One hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, capped at 40 hours per year. Employees can only start using their sick time after they have worked for at least 90 days. Independent contractors do not accrue sick time.
Most employees have the right to accrue one hour of sick leave per 35 hours worked, capped at 40 hours in a year. Government employees and certain per diem nurses do not qualify for sick leave.
Employees earn one hour of paid sick time for every 52 hours worked. A maximum of 40 hours of sick leave can be used per year. While employees begin earning sick time as soon as they start work, employers may choose to prohibit the use of sick time for up to one year.
People who do not qualify for sick time include:
Employees earn at least one hour of paid sick leave per 40 hours worked. Unused sick leave balances of 40 hours or less are carried over to the next year. Employees can only begin using sick leave after 90 days of employment.
Employees excluded from sick leave protections:
Seattle has its own set of complex sick leave requirements separate to the rest of the state:
The District of Colombia has varying sick time accrual rates depending on staff count:
The following cities and counties have their own sick leave rules independent of local state laws. If you operate a business in any of these areas, do some further research to see what kind of sick leave you owe your staff, if any.
When creating your own sick leave policy, you want to offer your employees the flexibility they need to take time off when they need it. At the same time, you need to set up clear rules and procedures for doing so to avoid abuse, error, and unnecessary administrative work for your staff.
Your policy should outline the rules and procedures behind requesting time off as well as a strategy for keeping track of employee accrual and how many sick days they have used.
Once you have developed your paid sick leave policy, you need an employee scheduling and paid time off tracker solution that streamlines the procedure of managing sick leave, keeps accurate records, and does all of this in line with state and local laws.
Managing sick leave should be as simple as “set it and forget it.” Get in touch with us today to find out how Workforce.com can help you easily and automatically comply with your state’s sick leave standards.
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