Understanding the Rules of Sick Leave in the US

When it comes to sick leave, there are no federal legal requirements for paid sick leave in the US. However, businesses subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are required to provide unpaid sick leave. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 78% of American workers have an agreement with their employer to grant paid time off in the event of illness. Paid sick time laws are based on an accrual system, where employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Generally, employers can limit the amount of sick time that employees can earn or use in a year, usually to around 40 hours. If an employee has already used a portion of the 13 days of sick leave for general family care or for grieving purposes in a year of leave, that amount must be subtracted from the entitlement to 12 weeks. Additionally, if an employee has already used 12 weeks of sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, they cannot use an additional 13 days of the same year of leave for general family care purposes. In general, laws on paid sick time cover employers regardless of their size, although some laws allow smaller employers to spend less time or not pay time.

Paid sick time laws require employers to pay employees for their sick time with their full regular wage, often subject to special rules for tipped workers. It is important to understand the nuances of each law and determine how they work together (or not) in order to write appropriate licensing policies, establish procedures and guide management teams.

Cornelius Maxon
Cornelius Maxon

Freelance music geek. Wannabe web evangelist. Friendly foodaholic. Friendly beer nerd. Professional internet fan.