It is estimated that 41 million workers do not receive paid sick leave, but that number is going to steadily drop. This past month the President has signed into effect an Executive Order (EO 13706) that establishes paid sick leave for federal contractors.
Work performed by parties that contract with the Federal Government will now be required to provide their employees with at least 7 days of paid sick leave on an annual basis. The employee will receive 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, which can be used for: their own illness, injury, or medical condition; the diagnosis/care or preventative care from a health care provider; and the caring of a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or any other blood/affinity relative. The accrued time will carry over from one year to the next (maxing out at 56 hours at any given time), and if a terminated employee is rehired within 12 months, whey will be entitled to any balance remaining when they had separated. The full details of the EO can be found by clicking here.
The president is now calling on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would expand this sick leave to all private sector workers.
There are a few states and even some cities that have passed their own variation of mandatory paid sick leave for employees working within their jurisdiction. Having a Federal law may actually make it easier for employers with employees in multiple states as it may provide a more consistent rule rather than having to understand and comply with every individual state or city.
The five states with paid sick leave are Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, and Vermont (effective 2017), plus there is Washington DC. The cities include Emeryville CA, Oakland CA, San Francisco CA, Santa Monica CA, San Diego CA, Los Angeles CA, Philadelphia PA, Pittsburgh PA, Chicago IL, Portland OR, Bloomfield NJ, East Orange NJ, Montclair NJ, Passaic NJ, Patterson NJ, Trenton NJ, Jersey City NJ, Seattle WA, Tacoma WA, New York NJ, and Montgomery County MD. The accrual varies across each of these jurisdictions with the consensus of around 1 hour of sick leave per week worked. Some have a maximum accrual of 40 hours earned per year while others go to 72 hours. If you have employees in any of these places be sure you check with those specific laws to make sure you are in compliance.
Hopefully the outcome of mandated paid sick leave is that it will increase productivity. Employees should not need to weigh out their own health, putting it at risk, with their job obligations and missing out on wages, plus it should reduce those instances of an employee coming in to work sick and possibly exposing their co-workers and customers to something contagious.
As with any of my articles, keep in mind that federal, state, and local laws are subject to change at any time, as well as subject to translation, so please consult with legal or professional help.