Mandated Paid Sick Leave- an inevitability?

by Michael Haberman on December 6, 2016 · 0 comments


Will mandated sick time become more common?

Will mandated sick time become more common?

Many large companies offer paid sick leave to their employees. Many smaller companies do as well, but some do not. For those companies that offer it the amount of time offered varies. In the smaller business market that I work in the average is three days with a range of 0 to 5 days. Some companies have combined sick leave with other paid time off, such as vacation, and allow the employee to use the time as desired. That is what companies do on their own volition, but there is an increasing tendency for governments, both state and local, to mandate that employers provide paid time off for sick time.

Mandated time

We all know that the Federal government has mandated leave time that is unpaid, aka FMLA. Most people also know that at least one state, California, as a mandated paid leave. But what about paid sick leave? That time that does not really fall under FMLA definitions. There have been 7 states, 29 cities, 2 counties, and Washington D.C. that have paid sick time laws on the books. The two most recent cities to join this list Morristown and Plainfield, New Jersey. There is some variation in the amount of time that is mandated, but the most common time is 1 hour of sick time earned for every 30 hours worked. The next most common time is 1 hour for every 40 hours worked.

Many of these laws limit the total amount of sick time that must be paid for to 40 hours on an annual basis, while some require 48 hours. There is some variation in how much based upon the size of the company, with very small companies, i.e., 6 or fewer employees, being relieved from the obligation to offer paid time, but being required to offer unpaid time. Every one of them requires time for personal illness and the illness of children. Many have extended this to include even more family members.

Will this be extended?

More and more discussions are occurring that indicate that state and local governments are considering mandating paid time. The Northwest and the Northeast states lead this effort, but there are some Midwest states that have done this as well. I think it is an idea that will spread. Like I indicated above, most companies of any size offer paid sick time as it is. They find this is a necessary benefit to be competitive in the job market. States may also be using mandated time off to be competitive in attracting talent to the state in order to attract business to the state. That however, may be a two-edged sword and may drive as much business away as it does attract. If the Federal government considers mandated paid leave, yet to be determined, that would level the playing field.

In reality the business that will be most affected by mandated sick time is small business. Lawmaking bodies, be they state or local, need to take in consideration the impact any such legislation will have on the small companies that are trying to establish themselves.


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