The Puzzle of Paid Sick Leave

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PSL Has A New Meaning

Recently, Austin became the first city in Texas to mandate paid sick leave (PSL) for non-governmental employers, requiring all companies with more than 15 employees to cover up to 64 hours of paid sick leave beginning October 1, 2018, and small business to provide 48 hours total, or six full eight-hour work days.  5 or less employees?  Your effective date is October 1, 2020. Still lots of questions around how this will be implemented, so hold tight until the FAQs launch from the City and we wade through the details.

In the meantime, Austin is not the only municipality to begin mandating leave policies for employees. In various states and cities there’s a quilt, of sorts, of different kinds of mandated paid leave for employees. So, heads up as these may be at your door or headed your way.

Sick and Safe Leave and PFL

On January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly overrode a veto of legislation requiring Maryland employers to provide sick and safe leave to their employees. Safe leave is an absence due to sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking against the employee or their family member. Maryland is now the ninth state to adopt a mandatory sick leave statute, which provides employees with up to 40 hours of sick and safe leave annually.

In Nevada employers are required, as of January 1, 2018, to provide safe leave or workplace protections for employees who are victims of domestic violence. Employers must offer 160 days leave—to be taken in a block or intermittently—to an employee “who has been employed by an employer for at least 90 days and who is a victim of an act which constitutes domestic violence.” The leave may be paid or unpaid and has to be provided during a 12-month period following the date on which the domestic violence occurs.

Also in January 1, 2018, the New York State Paid Family Leave Law (PFL) went into effect requiring virtually all private employers in New York to provide paid family leave benefits to eligible employees.

These states have joined a list that have already mandated leave including:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • District of Columbia

And cities with specific policies include:

  • Emeryville, CA
  • Oakland, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Plus, several cities in New Jersey

Yup, it’s a crazy quilt.

So What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It means that you need to figure out how you’re going to plan for, implement, and track various leaves that apply to your employees. Clearly, state and city governments are stepping in and making sure employers provide paid leave, even as many organizations already do so voluntarily.

The first step will be to review your current policies to confirm you are in compliance.

And if you are not, it’s time to crunch some numbers. Seriously, do the math first on how much this is going to add to your employees’ total benefits package and how much it is going to cost your bottom line.

Next, you have to figure out what you will do if particular employees were to take leave, extended or not.  Are you cross-training so that key activities are covered? If not, now is a really good time to start.

Third, are you using the tech tools that could make your life so much easier? If your business is still using spreadsheets and having people enter their time manually, you’re wasting valuable time (and money because we all know the saying) that could be spent a lot more profitably—like drumming up innovative ideas for customers or building team relationships. There are many HR software products that can help you track who is there, who is gone, how long they’ve been gone and how that stacks up from a financial standpoint.

Don’t Forget The Hidden Paycheck

What is the silver lining in all of this?  Paid leave is a component of total compensation so update your hidden paycheck tool.

Adding PSL to the list including COBRA, FMLA, ADA and many others?   Remember this: as always, we are here to help you navigate the complex and sometimes crazy world of employment related acronyms.  TTFN

We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.