Paid Sick and Safe Leave

DMEC Staff@Work

Paid Sick and Safe Leave: Complex Compliance Challenges Require Customized Solutions

Paid Sick and Safe LeaveBy Janis Moebus, MA

VP National Absence Management Practice
Aon Health Solutions

By Adam Morell, JD

Senior Consultant, National Absence Management Practice
Aon Health Solutions

Twenty-five years ago, the United States didn’t require employers to provide job protection to employees who missed work due to their own illness or that of a family member. This changed with the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993. The FMLA provided many employees with peace of mind that they wouldn’t lose their job just because they took time off to bond with a newborn, care for an elderly parent, or tend to their own serious health condition.

While the FMLA requires that employers provide job protection, it does not require that employees be paid during their time off. That loss of income can be a significant blow during a medical or family leave.

In response, many U.S. states, counties, and cities have enacted paid sick, family, and medical leave laws requiring that employees receive at least partial income replacement when they are absent to care for themselves or a family member. These laws are often referred to as sick and safe leave (SSL) laws. San Francisco was the first U.S. city to pass such a law in 2006, and SSL laws have proliferated over the last five years. As of January 2019, over 35 U.S. states, counties, or cities have SSL laws on the books.

While these laws are good news for employees and their families, the provisional and administrative requirements present a myriad of challenges for employers. First, because these laws are made at the local level (versus a federal law), they can present multi-state employers with quite a hurdle to achieve full compliance.

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