How to Comply When Paid Sick Leave Laws Vary by State

A sign that reads paid time off

Although federal leave requirements are fairly straightforward, sick time regulations vary by state. Here's a few ways to ensure your business stays compliant.

Currently, federal law generally does not require private employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. However, businesses that are bound by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) need to offer employees leave due to a serious medical condition, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The FMLA provides employees leave due to their own serious medical condition, or to care for an immediate family member who has a serious medical condition. Employees may elect to use accrued paid vacation leave, paid sick time or family leave for some or all of the FMLA leave period. Employers may also require employees to use such leave.

Employees eligible for FMLA leave must meet certain requirements: They must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the preceding 12 months, and worked at a location where at least 50 workers within 75 miles are employed by their employer.

Although federal leave requirements are fairly straightforward, sick time regulations vary by state. Below are several ways to help your business meet compliance requirements.

How to Comply When Laws Vary by State

Currently, 11 states and Washington D.C. require paid sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Michigan. A number of local jurisdictions also impose paid sick leave requirments on employers, including New York City, Philadelphia and a number of cities in California.

It's best to familiarize yourself with the applicable sick leave laws in the state and local jurisdictions where you operate and where your employees work to understand compliance requirements and to avoid costly fees and penalties due to noncompliance. This is especially important for multi-state employers, as managing compliance at the local, state and federal levels simultaneously can prove difficult.

A prime example of a state where employers must adhere to several layers of sick leave laws in this way is California. California's Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 mandates that employers — regardless of business size — must provide 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave. But certain cities in California, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego have ordinances with stricter requirements. For example, San Diego employers can cap employees' use of sick time to 40 hours per year, but employees may accrue up to 80. The state also requires employers to display a poster with their sick policies in a visible location where employees can easily read it.

In Connecticut, on the other hand, business size matters when it comes to paid sick leave. Connecticut's paid sick leave law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide 40 hours or five days of paid sick time for eligible employees. Paid sick leave laws at the state or local level can vary, so due diligence is particularly important for multi-state businesses.

Keep Accurate Records

Many state and local paid sick leave rules impose record-keeping requirements on covered employers. Understand the laws in your jurisdiction which may include maintaining records of employee hours worked, as well as the number of paid sick days accrued and used. By using payroll management software to track time and attendance, you can more easily maintain and access records should your business be asked to produce these documents. Specialized software can also automate certain sick leave tasks and eliminate manual reporting, which can help enable more streamlined sick leave administration.

Invest in an Agile Payroll Provider and Partner

Managing both state and federal compliance obligations can be challenging, but you don't have to do it alone. To help your business meet paid sick leave requirements, consider investing in a payroll provider. An agile payroll provider will have the expertise needed to help you track and manage compliance with paid sick leave rules and solidify workforce management.

For more information on HR regulatory trends and legislative updates, visit the ADP® Eye on Washington page.