As an employer, it is your responsibility to address the question of the vacation and sick leave policy that your employees enjoy. Additionally, it is your responsibility to have an understanding of the laws and regulations that govern these employee benefits. Not only is it required of you to follow these regulations for legal reasons, the loyalty and job satisfaction of your employees is at stake. Providing vacation and sick leave are simple ways to ensure the employees are happy and ready to give their job 100 percent.
It may come as a surprise to you that you are most likely not required by law to provide any vacation time or sick leave to any of your employees. There are some exceptions depending on location, but there are no federal laws requiring these benefits of employers. Certain states, such as California and Massachusetts, and certain cities, such as Seattle, have local laws dealing with vacation or sick leave. Always take the time to make sure you are in alignment with any local regulations that may apply to your business. You may not be required to provide time off, but it is recommended if you want to compete for employee’s work.
Additionally, while there are no laws requiring you to provide vacation or sick leave, there are laws that restrict or limit these benefits in the event you choose to provide them. These policies also vary based on location, so it is vital that you do your research. Typically, local laws dictate how the accrual of time off works, whether an employer can influence when an employee uses their vacation time, and who can be excluded from the benefit. Additionally, there are laws about offering different employees different amounts of vacation or sick time. You can make distinctions based on full or part-time status, but otherwise all employees should have the same benefits. Otherwise, you may be facing a discrimination claim.
Be as Clear as Possible
As an employer, you are usually free to build your vacation plan however you like. You should, however, make sure that you have a well-established benefit plan and that it is clearly laid out for employees. It is wise to include this information in an employee handbook. You should take time to consider the following:
- How much time you will offer employees for leaves
- How vacation time will accrue over time and what will happen to unused vacation time
- Whether a doctor’s note is necessary before taking sick leave
- How much time an employee can take off at once
- Whether part-time employees will also receive time off
As long as the rules of the vacation and sick leave that you provide are clear and readily available for employee review, you have nothing to worry about.
Paid Time Off
It is becoming more and more common for business to simply provide employees with Paid Time Off or PTO. Instead of differentiating between vacation, personal days, and sick days, employers can combine them into a single category. The flexibility and simplicity of this method has made it a favorite among business owners and operators. This method also discourages employees from misusing the system. If you choose to provide Paid Time Off for your employees, you must pay employees for unused days upon their termination.
There is one federal law that you need to be familiar with. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees that have been employed for at least 12 months and worked more than 1,250 hours in that time to take unpaid leave. This only applies to employers with 50 employees or more. In this system, qualified employees can take up to 12 weeks off in the event of a serious mental or physical health condition of themselves or a family member, or to care for a newborn, adopted child, or foster child.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.