Provide Sick Leave

Do I Have to Provide Sick Leave?

Nobody likes being sick, especially when it means choosing between taking care of your health and earning a paycheck. This is where sick leave comes into play and can really help your employees out.

Sick leave is exactly what it sounds like – your employees get time off for health-related issues, like being sick, going to the doctor, or caring for a sick family member. Sick leave can be either paid or unpaid.

Where is It Mandatory to Provide Sick Leave?

There is currently no federal mandate requiring you to provide any sort of sick leave to your employees. If you do choose to offer sick leave, though, your employees will thank you for it. They won’t have to risk their job because their child has to go to the doctor.

There are, however, several states (and D.C.) that do require you to provide sick leave for your employees:

Arizona | California | Connecticut | Maryland | Massachusetts | New Jersey | Oregon | Rhode Island | Vermont | Washington | Washington, D.C.

Some cities also require you to provide sick leave, but we’re only going to discuss D.C. here. If you have any questions about your state or city’s requirements, please speak with an employment attorney.

Arizona

If you have at least one employee in Arizona, then you must provide them with paid sick leave.

  • If you have 14 or fewer employees, you must provide at least 1 hour of leave per every 30 hours worked, up to 24 hours annually.
  • If you have 15 or more employees, you must provide at least 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours annually.

You’re required to give every type of employee sick leave – full-time, part time, and temporary. You are not, however, required to give sick leave to independent contractors.

Your employees will start accruing their leave when they start working for you, but you can choose to make them wait 90 days before letting them use that time.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use their sick leave for

  • medical care for a mental or physical illness, injury; or health condition;
  • a family member’s medical care for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • a public health emergency that affects themselves or a family member; or
  • an absence related to domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse, or stalking that involves themselves or a family.

You can request documentation if the employee misses three or more consecutive workdays. The documentation could be a doctor’s note, police report, letter from their attorney, or simply a statement from the employee that they needed time off.

California

In California, you must provide sick leave to an employee, if they work in California for at least 30 days in a year. You must provide them 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 3 days.

Your employees will begin accruing sick time on their first day of work and can begin using it on their 90th day of work.

Your employees can carry over any unused time to the next year, up to 48 hours. However, if your company offers a paid sick leave or paid time off (PTO) policy that provides your employees with at least 24 hours of leave,  and you give your employees that full amount at the beginning of each year, then you do not have to give your employees additional accrued sick leave or let them carry over their unused time.

These requirements apply to most employees, including part-time employees, temporary or seasonal employees, staffing agency employees, and independent contractors. There are a few exceptions, however. You do not have to provide paid sick leave to

  • in-home supportive services employees;
  • certain airline cabin crew members and aviation employees; and
  • construction industry employees and other employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, if they are paid at least 30% more than California’s minimum wage.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use their sick time for themselves or a family member for

  • the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition;
  • preventative care; and
  • certain reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Connecticut

Connecticut only requires you to provide paid sick leave if you have 50 or more employees. If that’s you, you must provide 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. However, if you have an employee who did not work an average of 10 or more hours per week in the most recent calendar quarter, then you do not have to provide sick leave.

An employee will begin accruing their sick time on their hire date and can begin using it after working 680 hours (if the employee works 40 hours a week, that’s 17 weeks). If an employee does not use all their sick time, then they can carry up to 40 hours to the next year.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use their sick time for

  • an illness, injury, or health condition;
  • the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • preventative medical care;
  • a child or spouse’s illness, injury, or health condition;
  • the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition for a spouse or child; or
  • a spouse or child’s preventative medical care.

If your employee or an employee’s family member is a victim of family violence or sexual assault, they can also use their sick leave

  • for medical care, psychological care, or other counseling for a physical or psychological injury or disability;
  • to receive services from a victim services organization;
  • to relocate; or
  • to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings.

In each of these situations, you can require documentation from your employee if they are absent for three or more consecutive work days. The documentation can be a statement indicating the employee’s need to miss work signed by a healthcare provider, service worker, victim services organization volunteer, attorney, police officer, or other counselor.

Maryland

Maryland employers are required to give their employees at least 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Your employees are not entitled to more than 40 hours of leave in a year or to accrue more than 64 hours at any time.

  • If you have 15 or more employees, then this must be paid sick leave.
  • If you have 14 or fewer employees, it can be unpaid sick leave.

You must provide your employees with a written statement telling them how much leave they can use.

You can require your employees to give you advanced notice, if the reason for the leave is foreseeable.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

An employee can use their sick leave

  • to care for or treat a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition;
  • to receive preventative medical care for themselves or a family member;
  • for the care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition;
  • for maternity or paternity leave; and
  • because of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against themselves or a family member, if the leave is used
    • to receive medical or mental health attention,
    • to obtain services from a victim services organization,
    • for legal services or proceedings, or
    • because the employee is temporarily relocating.

Massachusetts

If you’re in Massachusetts, you must provide your employees with 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year.

  • If you have 11 or more employees, then this must be paid sick leave.
  • If you have fewer than 11 employees, then you must provide the sick time, but it doesn’t have to be paid.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use the leave for themselves or a family member for

  • an illness or injury;
  • a routine medical appointment; and
  • to deal with domestic violence.

If your employee plans on using their leave (for something like a routine medical appointment), then you can require them to provide advanced notice.

You can ask for a doctor’s note or other documentation, but only if the employee misses more than three consecutive days of work. You also cannot ask for any specifics about the employee’s illness or domestic violence.

You can also request your employees to fill out a form verifying that they used their sick leave for an authorized reason.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, you must give your employees at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 40 hours. You must keep written records of how many hours each employee worked and how much sick time they earned and used for at least five years.

Sometimes, an employee will know in advance that they’ll use sick time (like for a routine appointment). In those cases, you can require up to seven days advanced notice. You can also prohibit your employees from using leave (for a foreseeable reason) during certain dates.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use their sick leave

  • for a mental or physical illness or injury;
  • to care for a family member;
  • to address domestic or sexual violence;
  • when their child’s school or childcare facility is closed because of an epidemic or public health emergency; or
  • for a school-related meeting or event for your child.

If an employee misses three or more consecutive days of work, you can ask for reasonable documentation.

Oregon

In Oregon, you must give your employees at least 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked or 1-1/3 hours for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year.

  • If you have 10 or more employees, then this must be paid sick time.
  • If you have fewer than 10 employees, you must provide sick leave, but it does not have to be paid.

Your employees will begin accruing sick time on their hire date and can begin using it on the 91st calendar date of their employment.

Your employees can carry over any unused time. However, you can cap that and only allow your employees to carry over 40 hours each year. You can also cap their sick time balance to 80 hours per year.

You also have the option of “frontloading” your employees’ sick time. But, if you do that, you must give your employees at least 40 hours of sick leave at the beginning of the year, regardless of how many hours they work.

If you frontload sick time and hire an employee later in the year, then you can prorate their time. For example, if you hire someone 6 months into the year, then you could give them 20 hours of sick leave. Or, if you hire someone 3 months into the year, you could give them 30 hours of sick leave.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use their sick leave

  • for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • to obtain a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment;
  • for preventative care;
  • for a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • to obtain a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for a family member;
  • for a family member’s preventative care;
  • to care for an infant;
  • to care for a newly adopted child or newly placed foster child;
  • to recover from or seek treatment for a health condition that renders them unable to perform at least one of their major job functions;
  • for absences related to the death of a family member, such as
    • attending a funeral or alternative funeral,
    • making arrangements, and
    • to grieve;
  • for absences related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking, such as to
    • seek legal or law enforcement assistance,
    • ensure the health and safety of themselves or a child,
    • seek medical treatment,
    • recover from injuries,
    • receive counseling,
    • obtain services from a victim services provider,
    • relocate or take steps to secure their existing home;
  • for a public health emergency, if
    • your business closes,
    • their child’s school or childcare facility closes,
    • a lawful public health authority determines that the presence of the employee or their family members in the community would jeopardize others’ health, or
    • you must exclude the employee from the workplace for health-related reasons; or
  • to donate accrued sick time to another employee, if the employee plans to use the time for an authorized purpose, and if your policy allows employees to donate sick leave.

You can require your employees to provide medical verification, if they

  • take three or more consecutive days,
  • know they will need to take three or more consecutive days off,
  • start sick time without any notice, or
  • if you have sufficient evidence to suspect that the employee is abusing the sick leave policy (for example, if they are exhibiting a pattern of absenteeism).

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, you must provide your employees with at least 1 hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked.

  • If you have 18 or more employees, it must be paid sick leave.
  • If you have fewer than 18 employees, it does not have to be paid.

In 2018, your employees are guaranteed up to 24 hours of leave. In 2019, they’re entitled to accrue up to 32 hours. And, in 2020, they’ll be entitled to accrue up to 40 hours each year.

Vermont

Vermont requires employers to give employees at least 1 hour of earned sick time for every 52 hours worked, but it does not have to be paid.

From now through December 31, 2018, you must give your employees accrued leave up to at least 24 hours. Starting in 2019, your employees must continue accruing time up to 40 hours. You can always allow your employees to accrue more than 40 hours.

Your employees will start accruing time on their first day of work. You can choose to require a waiting period of up to one year before an employee can use their leave.

If an employee needs to take time off, you cannot require them to work to make up that time. However, you and your employee can come to an agreement where they can work extra instead of charging their sick leave.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

An employee can use sick leave

  • for a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires professional medical diagnosis or care or preventative medical care;
  • to care for a family member who is suffering from a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires professional medical diagnosis or care or preventative medical care;
  • to care for a sick or injured family member, including helping them obtain diagnostic, routine, or therapeutic health treatment or accompanying them to an appointment related to long-term care;
  • to arrange for social or legal services or to obtain medical care or counseling for themselves or a family member who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • to relocate due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • to care for a family member because their school, childcare facility, or business where they usually spend the workday is closed due to public health reasons.

You should encourage your employees to notify you that they will be using sick time as soon as practicable, and you can require that they provide proof that they’re using it for an allowed reason.

Washington

In the State of Washington, you must give your employees at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Their leave starts accruing as soon as they start working for you and must be available for use after 90 calendar days.

Your employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time each year.

You’re also required to write a new time off policy anytime you implement a shared leave program, frontload your employees’ paid leave, choose an accrual year different than January through December, or create a PTO policy.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use their sick leave

  • for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • for the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • to treat a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • to get preventative medical care;
  • to care for a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • to care for a family member who needs the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • to help a family member get treatment for a medical or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • for the care of a family member who needs preventative medical care;
  • when your place of business is closed because of a health-related reason, by order of a public official;
  • when their child’s school or childcare facility is closed for a health-related reason, by order of a public official;
  • for an absence that qualified under Washington’s Domestic Violence Leave Act (DVLA).

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. requires employers to provide paid sick leave to its employees. The amount of time you must provide depends on the size of your business.

  • If you have tipped employees, regardless of your size, you must offer 1 hour of leave for every 43 hours worked, up to 5 days per year.
  • Companies with 24 or fewer employees must provide 1 hour of leave for every 87 hours worked, up to 3 days per year.
  • If you have 25 to 99 employees, you must provide 1 hour of leave for every 43 hours worked, up to 5 days per year.
  • If you have 100 or more employees, you must provide 1 hour of leave for every 37 hours worked, up to 7 days per year.

In each case, your employees will begin accruing leave on their hire date, and they can begin using it after 90 days. You must also allow your employees to carry over any unused leave to the next year.

These requirements apply to most employees, including permanent employees, temporary employees, and even independent contractors. There are a few exceptions, however. You do not have to provide paid sick leave to

  • independent contractors who choose to participate in a premium pay program,
  • students who choose to participate in a premium pay program,
  • healthcare workers who choose to participate in a premium pay program, and
  • construction industry employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that waives paid leave requirements.

What Can My Employees Use the Leave For?

Your employees can use the leave for

  • a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition;
  • to get a medical diagnosis or preventative care;
  • a family member’s physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition;
  • to get a medical diagnosis or preventative care for a family member; or
  • to receive care or services related to stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse for themselves or a family member.

What about your small business? Do you offer your employees sick leave?