Paid Sick Leave

HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Paid Sick Leave

What is Paid Sick Leave?

Paid sick leave is type of employee leave where an employer-provided benefit where employees do not work during a specified time period as a result of sickness or other health-related issues, yet still receive their normal paycheck.

How Does Paid Sick Leave Work?

Employers offer paid sick leave as a benefit to employees, either to improve their retention, recruitment, worker quality-of-life, or all of the above. 

Different organizations offer different forms of compensation for sick leave. In some instances, workers receive their full pay while taking a sick day, no matter how long they work. In other cases, employees must accrue sick leave for hours worked before they can access time off for illness.

Why Should an Employer Offer Paid Sick Leave?

As mentioned above, paid sick leave provides a quality-of-life benefit to employees so that they can stay healthy and be more productive when they return to the workforce. 

Additionally, by permitting workers to take days off when feeling ill, an organization helps prevent further spread of the sickness in the workplace. This is especially important knowing that according to a survey conducted by HR consulting firm Robert Half, 90% of employees say they’ve gone to the office while sick.

Are Employers Legally Required to Offer Paid Sick Leave?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are no federal legal requirements for employers to offer paid sick leave to workers. However, there is a growing list of cities and states that do require the benefit is provided for qualified individuals. 

With that in mind, companies that are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are required to provide unpaid sick leave for up to 12 weeks, depending on the medical needs of an employee or their immediate family. As the DOL puts it, “in many instances paid leave may be substituted for unpaid FMLA leave.”

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