CHANGE ON THE HORIZON: YOUR STATE OR CITY MAY SOON REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE MANDATORY SICK LEAVE

Historically, paid sick leave has been an issue in the American workplace, mainly because the United States lags behind other countries in offering this benefit to workers.  Presently, if your business falls under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers are already required to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for certain medical situations.  However, in most states, private employers are not legally required to offer paid sick leave to employees.  Although, a handful of states and cities have recently enacted legislation requiring paid sick leave.  Currently, five states and 23 cities have paid sick leave laws on the books.  Of specific note for Idaho employers, Oregon, as well as several Washington state cities have enacted such legislation.

Additionally, based on President Obama‚Äôs Executive Order 13706, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued rules which will go into effect by September 30, 2016, applicable for employers in any state who contracts with the federal government. 

While paid sick leave legislation is varied, most legislation provides for accrual of one hour of sick leave for every 30-40 hours worked.  Most provide that the time off can be used due to illness of the worker or to care for loved ones.  Some provide for use of the time in domestic violence circumstances (worker or family was the victim).  Commonly, most laws provide for accrual of sick time at the commencement of employment, but most restrict use of sick leave for the first 90 days of employment.  Additionally, most allow some carry-over of leave each year, but it is important to be aware of your specific statutory provisions.

Reporting and tracking requirements are also specific to the applicable sick-leave law. However, such requirements may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Keeping detailed records related to hours worked;
  • Sick time accrued;
  • Amount of sick time taken, and when;
  • The pay rate for sick time taken; and
  • Any amount of paid sick time carried over or paid out.
  • In some instances, the employer may be required to provide some of this information to employees with each pay stub.  Additionally, depending on the provisions included in the legislation or ordinance, an employer may not be required to inform staff about available paid sick leave. If they do, the statute, ordinance or implementing regulations will outline the method and timing for the employer.

    INSIGHTS FOR EMPLOYERS

    If your state or city enacts paid sick leave legislature or an ordinance, make sure to review your employment policies and handbook to ensure existing sick leave or paid time off (PTO) policies comply with the new law.  It is especially important to clearly state whether employees will be paid for accrued sick leave at time of termination.  Failure to do so can expose employers to wage claim liability.

     

    Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other employment issues facing your company.