Paid Sick Leave: Is your city or state effected?


Your people get sick.  And your people’s people get sick.  Sometimes we know they are truly sick and sometimes they’re “sick” (like after Superbowl Sunday).  As an employer you may already have sick pay in place for these very lucrative (and occasionally not) instances.  Even if you have offered sick pay, if your city or state has a law in place that requires you to, be 100% sure that your current policy keeps you in compliance.

Five states currently require paid sick leave.  Shockingly enough, California wasn’t the first state to require private sector employers to do so, it was Connecticut!

The Constitution State

Connecticut enacted its paid sick leave law in 2011 being the first in all 50 states to require public sector employers to provide employees with paid sick leave but only “service workers.”  Service workers must accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year.  Each service worker is allowed to carry over up to 40 unused accrued hours of paid sick leave.  Service workers are entitled to their accrued sick leave after they have completed their 680th hour of employment from the date of hire.

The Golden State

California enacted the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act in 2014 requiring employers of any size to provide its employees who have worked at least 30 days within a year, paid sick leave with the exception of employees of air carriers, those covered by collective bargaining agreements and in-home supportive services providers.  Employers must provide 24 hours or three days up front and replenish the amount every year, OR have employees accrue at one hour for every 30 hours worked to a total of 24 hours or three days and allow an annual carry over of 48 hours.  In addition to this, employers must place the employees’ accrued balance on his/her paycheck. 

Never to be outdone in its extent of employment law, California also has local sick pay laws in Santa MonicaLos AngelesSan Diego and San Francisco.

The Bay State

Effective July 1, 2015, Massachusetts “Earned Sick Time Law” allows employees to accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked with a maximum accrual of 40 hours BUT not all employers are required to pay the employees.  If an employer has 11 or more employees it must pay for the accrued sick time, but if they have fewer the employer must provide the time off but not the pay.  Employees are entitled to this paid/unpaid time after 90 days of employment.

The Beaver State

Beginning this year on January 1st Oregon employers with ten or more employees (or at least six if they are located in Portland) must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, and much like Massachusetts, if the employer has less than 10/6, they must provide unpaid leave.  AND much like the other states it’s accrued at one hour for every 30 hours worked.

The Green Mountain State

Starting January 1, 2017Vermont employers must give workers at least three paid sick days a year and beginning January 1, 2019, employers must increase that amount to five paid sick days each year.  There is relief for smaller employers (five of less employees) who do not have to comply with the law until 2018.  Employees will accrue one hour for every 52 hours worked and employers can require a waiting period of one year.

Local Ordinances

Other municipalities, besides those in California, have passed their own ordinances applying to employers within those cities or counties: New York CityPhiladelphiaSeattleWashington D.C. and Chicago.  In addition to this, federally there is a proposed new law for federal contractors to provide seven days of paid sick leave annually, set to be effective January 1, 2017.

These states and local municipalities have slight variations on the following stipulations but they are mostly the same, stating that employees can use the time not only for themselves but also family members for illness, diagnosis, care or treatment, preventative care and for employees who are victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.  And like the laws always go, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for requesting and taking leave, and they must post notice of the law.

This trend will continue so if your state or city doesn’t have a sick pay law in place, don’t be surprised if eventually they do, and next time your employee calls in sick or “sick” make sure you have the proper policies and procedures in place to protect yourself.  If you have any questions or would like further information on the sick pay laws in your city or state, please do not hesitate to reach out to our HR team for assistance.  As always…we are here to help!

By LeiLani Quiray, SPHR/Director of HR

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