Laws About Sick Days

December 28, 2015

Federal Law sets the minimum requirements that each employer must meet regarding sick days. Currently, Federal Law does not require that employers provide paid sick leave for their employees. However, companies that meet certain criteria are required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a Federal law that provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave for certain medical situations for either the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family.

Brief Overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act

According to the US Department of Labor website: employers are subject to the FMLA if they employ at least fifty employees within a seventy-five mile radius. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they worked with their employer for 1. At least 12 months, 2. At least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, 3. At a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within seventy-five miles.

Eligible employees may take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are provided:

Twelve work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

  1. The birth of a child and to care for a newborn child within one year of birth
  2. The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement
  3. To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
  4. A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
  5. Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or Twenty-six work weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

In light of the Supreme Court’s decisions supporting gay marriage, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division redefined spouse so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take Family and Medical Leave Act leave to care for their spouse or family member.

State Laws

Employers often offer paid sick leave as part of their employee benefits package, but in most states that providing paid sick leave is a voluntary act on the part of the employers. While Federal Law sets minimum national standards, individual states are free to pass more stringent laws that apply to companies located in their states. Most states have no paid sick leave laws.

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