Paid Sick Leave, Are Your Workers Calling Out?

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Feb 11, 2016 8:27:00 AM

In ICS insights

It’s that time of the year again.  Businesses are back in full swing after the holiday lull and employees are calling out sick and in large numbers.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of workers who are absent due to seasonal illness spikes significantly between December and March.  These unplanned absences lead to a substantial loss in productivity. The cost of employee absence includes direct costs such as wages/salaries, overtime to co-workers who cover and replacement costs associated with temporary workers.   Indirect costs include the loss of productivity with the temporary worker who covers the shifts of absent employees (who typically is less skilled than a full time employee), co-workers (who must pick up the slack for absent employees) as well as the supervisor (who becomes distracted with the loss of productivity and skill gaps as a result of the absences).  The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that employee absenteeism conservatively costs companies $3,600 per hourly employee per year and $2,650 per salaried employee per year. 

Whether you are an HR professional, business owner or supervisor, none of this information should come as a shock.   However, are you 100% certain that your policies and practices for Paid Sick Leave are fully compliant with Federal, State and Local laws?  Currently, there are four states (Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Oregon), 20 cities (including NYC, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC) and one county that have mandated Sick Leave Policies laws with many more in legislation.  Likewise, a new Executive Order was signed into law in September 2015 that requires federal contractors and subcontractors be given up to seven days (56 hours) of paid sick leave per year. 

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Who is entitled to sick leave, how’s its earned and tracked, along with the reason for which it can be used sometimes vary greatly from one state/city to another.  In the State of California, all private and public employers, regardless of size, must provide their workers paid sick leave to their employees.  Workers that are employed for more than 30 days earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to 48 hours (although the employer isn’t required to allow the employee to use more than 24 hours a year).  These hours can be used for the employee’s own sickness or to care for loved ones which include; spouses, children, grandparents and registered domestic partners.   Employers must begin tracking and accruing time at the commencement of the worker’s employment even though the employee cannot begin using hours until their 90th day of employment. Conversely, the State of Connecticut requires companies with 50 or more employees to offer paid sick leave to employees.  They too require employers to begin tracking and accrual at the commencement of employment but employee’s earn 1 hour for every 40 worked up to a maximum of 40 hours per year.  Employees cannot begin using accrued hours until their 680th hour of employment!  Unlike California, workers can only use hours for their own sickness and children.

You might be asking yourself, “My company’s offices aren’t in any of the states or cities who have Paid Sick Leave Laws.  I don’t have to worry...right?”  WRONG!   New York City’s ,“Earned Sick Time Act” states that if an employer is located outside of New York City, but has at least 5 employees who work inside the city limits, they must provide sick leave to employees who work in NYC city for more than 80 hours a year.   

Confused yet?  

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