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Is Your Company Too Strict on Medical Leave?

By: SmallBizClub


Should your small business offer employees paid leave for medical leave or injuries? You may be required to provide a certain amount of sick leave by law, but should you go above and beyond that to offer paid sick leave as a benefit? It’s natural that as a business owner you might worry that employees will take advantage of a paid sick leave policy, but can such a policy actually help you to attract and keep quality employees?

What the Law Says About Sick Leave

Laws regarding sick leave and workers compensation may vary a bit from state to state, so it’s vital that you always check out the law in your jurisdiction. On a national level, there are three laws that affect you as an employer when it comes to sick leave:

  • Workers Compensation covers medical expenses and paid leave for workers who are injured or disabled on the job. The exact coverage differs by state and the nature and circumstances of the injury.
  • The Family And Medical Leave Act allows workers up to 12 weeks unpaid leave a year to help a sick family member or deal with a serious health condition. The law applies to private companies with more than 50 employees. The FMLA has specific guidelines as to what constitutes a serious health condition, which it would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with.
  • The Americans With Disabilities Act is a law protecting disabled people from discrimination in the workplace. Although it doesn’t specifically cover sick leave, it does cover making accommodations to support employees, which may include benefits such as leave to deal with their condition.
It’s clear that paid sick leave is not a legal requirement, unless due to an injury under the Workers Compensation Act, but many employers do offer paid sick leave, so what are the benefits to your business of doing that?

Benefits to You of Offering Paid Sick Leave

For employees and job seekers, a good benefits package is a reason to choose to work for you and to stay loyal to your small business. Salary alone isn’t the only consideration for workers; benefits including health related benefits are also a strong selling point when it comes to choosing who to work for.

Benefits such as paid sick leave show that you are a flexible employer who will work with employees to resolve life issues and help them keep a good work life balance, which adds up to happier and more productive employees and a more trusting relationship between you. As stated in the article “Avoiding Lapses In Health Insurance Coverage,” staying covered in case of illness is important for managing finances and planning for the future, and offering paid sick leave can help your employees do just that.

Offering a benefit such as paid sick leave lets your employees know that their health matters to you and that you will support them in staying well and taking time off when they really need to. In addition, you’ll be cutting down on the chance of them coming to work when they really should stay home, which can only lead to a sub-standard performance.

How to Make a Sick Leave Policy Work for You

To make a paid sick leave policy work for you, planning and clear communications are essential. You and your employees should be clear on:

  • What constitutes a serious enough illness to take paid sick leave.
  • How much leave can be taken and how much pay will be allocated.
  • Whether the policy extends to a spouse or child’s sickness.
  • Whether sick days can be accrued year on year.
If you’re worried about whether employees might take advantage of paid sick leave, you might try:

  • Requiring employees to call in on each sick day.
  • Requiring a doctor’s note for each period of sickness.
Although paid sick leave isn’t required by law, offering it as a benefit shows your employees that you are dedicated to providing a flexible working environment with good benefits, which will help you attract and keep high caliber employees who will stay loyal to your small business.

Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, SEO, health insurance benefits and paid sick leave.

Published: September 8, 2014

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