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You are Here: Home > Wages & Pay > Sick Pay - Paid Sick Leave

Sick Pay - Paid Sick Leave

You might be surprised to learn that, in the absence of an employment agreement that indicates otherwise, your employee rights likely do not automatically entitle you to sick pay.

That's because only three municipalities and one state have passed laws requiring employers to provide sick leave benefits to employees, whether paid or not.*

In fact, nearly 75 percent of low-wage workers in the U.S. do not have sick leave benefits either with or without pay, while about 43 percent of all U.S. workers do not have paid sick leave benefits. As with many traditional benefits, providing sick pay is voluntary for employers.

But some employers have traditionally provided paid sick leave anyway, to attract new and retain current employees. Some of those employers also voluntarily include accrued sick pay in employees' final paychecks, as incentive to reduce sick-leave abuse.

Did you know?Under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your employee rights might entitle you to take leave to care for yourself or family members, without losing your job or benefits. However, the Act does not require your employer to issue sick pay to you while you're on FMLA leave.

If your employer does provide a traditional sick pay benefit to the group of employees of which you're part, then you are generally entitled to it if you follow the rules. Because it's generally a voluntary benefit, your employer may stipulate the rules of paid sick leave, such as in an employee policy manual.

For example, to receive your sick pay, your employer is likely entitled to require you by policy to submit a written excuse from a doctor for missing work.

If you violate a paid sick leave policy, then your employer is likely entitled to deprive you of sick pay and worse, maybe even fire you. However, the courts typically consider all factors involved, to decide whether or not employers really had good cause to fire employees for company policy violation. See an attorney about that.

Read About Employee Benefits for information regarding avenues of relief, should your employer deprive you of the sick pay or any other employee benefit to which you're rightfully entitled.

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* San Francisco was the first among states and municipalities to require employers to provide sick pay to qualified employees, through its Paid Sick Leave Ordinance that went into effect on February 5, 2007. As of the last update to this article, only Milwaukee, the District of Columbia and Connecticut had passed similar laws, but Milwaukee has since repealed its law.

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