24 laws and counting – paid sick leave in the US is changing

In the UK, paid sick leave has been part of the benefits for all workers since the National Insurance Act of 1911. In the United States, on the other hand, allowing employees time off for sickness has been a much more recent development and paying absentees during sick leave is not always the norm. 

In the US, the FMLA legislation came into force in 1993 ensuring that employees are allowed unpaid time off for qualifying reasons. But it is only in the last 8 years that states and municipalities have started legislating for paid sick leave and now, in the last 12 months, the trend has really taken off. As of August 2015, 4 states and more than 20 municipalities had passed a law on paid sick leave and 5 more are expected to follow suit in 2016. 

Just in 2015, 13 new laws have been passed and the legislative myriad is beginning to be daunting for employers – especially if they operate in more than one state or city. Some states are counteracting the trend by passing kibosh laws that prevent local authorities from coming up with any more regulations. The gap should then be filled with state-level legislation instead.

Regardless of the regulators, more and more US companies are offering paid sick leave to their employees voluntarily. According to research by XpertHR, 61% of private employers in the US offer paid sick leave already. This does not get distributed very evenly, though, with only 22% of the bottom 10% of earners receive the benefit. For comparison, 86% of the top 10% of earners do!

As paid sick leave laws proliferate, it might be time to implement a comprehensive absence management tool, like Engage!