What is sick leave?

Sick leave is a benefit that allows employees to take time off to take care of health issues while still being paid. Sick leave is different than vacation time and PTO.

What are acceptable reasons to take sick leave?

In general, an employee is supposed to use sick leave for purposes related to medical treatment. An employee can use sick time to care for their own health or sometimes that of a child or family member.

Am I required to offer my employees sick leave?

Your state, county, or city may require you to offer sick leave. For example, in:

  • Massachusetts, an employer has to give a minimum of one hour of earned sick time for every thirty hours worked by an employee. This sick time must be paid sick leave if the employer has 11 or more employees.
  • San Francisco, workers earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Workers in businesses with 10 or fewer employees earn up to five days per year, while workers at larger businesses earn nine days per year.

Some of these laws require employers offer sick leave to employees for a number of health-related situations, like caring for themselves or caring for a child. So make sure to check both your state’s Department of Labor website and your county and city websites to know the rules that apply to your business

This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business.