Are Workers Entitled to Paid Sick Time Off?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on March 17, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Workers everywhere scramble to remember their sick time off policies whenever they catch a cold, but many are not entitled to paid sick leave.

Unless you live in specific states or cities with mandatory paid sick leave laws, there are no laws that require your private employer to pay for your time at home with the flu.

Why is that?

No Federal Law for Paid Sick Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law more than 21 years ago, provides workers with unpaid mandatory time off for serious illnesses and family needs. This federal law applies to most private employers with 50 or more employees and all public employers, but it won't entitle you to paid sick leave even if you're eligible.

This means that private employers in most states are not required to provide employees with any paid sick time off. There's also no right to paid vacation time off. As far as federal law is concerned, each private company is more or less free to set its own sick time and vacation policies, as long as they're fairly enforced.

State. Local Paid Sick Time Laws

There are a few states that require employers to provide workers with paid sick time off. San Francisco the first city to provide all employees with paid sick leave in 2007, no matter the size of the business. Connecticut was the first state to approve a mandatory paid sick leave law, which took effect in 2012.

According to a recent survey, 71 percent of Americans support these kind of laws, and only 10 percent actively oppose them. With support like this, it's no wonder that many other cities and states have mandatory paid sick time on their dockets. Chicago is very close to approving its own mandatory paid sick leave law this month.

If you live in a state or city which requires your employer to provide you with paid sick leave, you may be entitled to a paid sick day off. However, several states (see Kansas or Louisiana) have explicitly prohibited local lawmakers from enacting mandatory paid sick leave laws, so the fight for sick time off is far from over.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard