Paid Sick Time: Soon To Be Mandated

by Michael Haberman on May 27, 2009 · 0 comments


I don’t have a problem with paid sick time. Every place I have ever worked offered it, at least to full time workers. We offer it at our company even though we only have 13 employees. Most of my clients offer it as well. Research has shown that 80% of employers do so. So I am not about to argue against sick time, what I do not like is MANDATED BY THE GOVERNMENT SICK TIME. The House of Representatives has introduced the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 2460).

This new bill will mandate that all employers with 15 or more employees be required to accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked up to 56 hours, or 7 days. This is generally more sick time than most small companies allot, which in my experience is 5 days. So an additional cost to employers. Workers would begin accruing the time immediately and could take it as soon as their 60th day of employment. They can take this time for the following reasons:

  • Their own physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition.
  • To obtain medical care, including preventive care.
  • To care for, or help obtain medical care for, a child, parent, spouse or “any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is equivalent of a family relationship.
  • Absences related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including time needed to get counseling, relocation assistance or pursuing legal action.

So in one fell swoop we have a mini-FMLA, domestic partner, violence against women law all wrapped up in one neat little package that at this time stands a very good chance of passage, at least in the House. After all who is going to argue against this? President Obama has expressed his support for the bill.

Again I am not against sick time. But not all companies can afford this mandate. People have a choice of working or not working for an employer who does not offer sick time or benefits. If you are an employee who needs benefits find an employer who offers them. Rather than forcing employers to offer this I would prefer an incentive approach as opposed to a mandated approach. Reward employers for offering better benefit packages with tax incentives rather than forcing a mandate down everyone’s collective throats.

BTW, this will mean more work for the HR administrators, timekeepers, recordkeepers out there. This will have to be coordinated with all the existing laws and benefit coverages already in existance, such as FMLA. You will have to track this separately.

One last note. I believe this will also cover your part-time workers. The threshold is hours worked, not fulltime status. So as a part-timer works they will also accrue sick time.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 29, 2009 at 9:32 am

Maybe if companies would be fair and decent to their employees in the first place, Congress wouldn’t have to force it down their collective throats!

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Michael D. Haberman, SPHR May 29, 2009 at 9:50 am

Anonymous:
I have worked for many companies, both as an employee and consultant that were more than fair and kind to their employees. The employees were treated well and in turn thought well of the company. So your broad generalization does not work. If you have worked for a company that you thought was not fair and decent why did you continue to work there? I doubt anyone held a gun to your head. Working some place that you hate is your choice. Don’t like it? Leave! Why make yourself into a victim?

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Anonymous February 4, 2010 at 11:07 pm

So your saying, no matter how bad your being treated at work, you should not complain just put up with it or you can quit?? If this is what you believe then why even have a labor board, or union? The "company" can do whatever it wants because you don't have to work there? Lets just hope your not in an HR position. The work force doesn't need people of your kind!

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