Paid sick leave laws have gained momentum in 2014 nationwide. From 2006 to 2014, numerous states and localities passed paid sick leave laws, including San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, California, Connecticut, and New York City. In 2014 alone, twelve states or localities passed paid sick leave laws, including California and Massachusetts (State-wide), and Oakland and Berkeley, California. Some states have refused to endorse paid sick leave, adopting laws that prohibit local governments from establishing the right to paid sick leave, such as Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Because of efforts from grass-roots organizations, employers should expect numerous states and localities to address paid sick leave in the near future.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for multi-jurisdictional employers will be dealing with the laws’ various differences. Many of the laws differ in key areas, such as which employees are covered, how much sick time employees accrue, what sick leave can be used for, and whether sick leave can carry over from year to year. For instance, covered employees in Connecticut accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every forty hours worked, while covered employees in California and Massachusetts accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked. Accordingly, employers with locations in multiple jurisdictions with paid sick leave laws may have to craft separate sick leave policies for each location.
Moreover, some locations will be governed by multiple paid sick leave laws. For example, employers who already provide paid sick leave under San Francisco’s ordinance, which was passed in 2006, will not necessarily be in compliance with California’s paid sick leave law. These employers will need to consider separate or harmonized policies that comply with the applicable local ordinance and state law.
As an alternative, employers can adopt an ERISA plan that covers PTO and sick leave benefits, by following certain regulatory protocol under ERISA. When done correctly, this can allow employers to have one uniform nationwide policy and preempt these various state and local sick pay ordinances. Click here to read more on ERISA governed PTO and sick pay policies.