Chances are, your company offers sick leave to full time employees, since nearly 80% of full-timers get some sort of sick benefit. But if you don’t, there are a few reasons you might want to consider it.
First, it makes it easier to deal with the legalities of exempt employee salary deductions (more on that in a moment). Second, the office is just healthier when there aren’t sick people wandering the halls. It may seem counter intuitive, but paying an employee to stay home when they’re sick benefits you and your company a great deal.
Benefits of a Sick Leave Policy
- Employees don’t have to worry about losing pay when the inevitable happens, and happier employees do better work.
- Sick employees can infect the workforce.
- Sick employees can infect the public in certain types of jobs.
- It improves employee retention.
- It allows for salary deductions for exempt employees who abuse the privilege.
Standard Sick Leave Benefits for Full Time Employees
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sick leave benefits are slightly more generous depending on length of service and in larger companies. On average, full time employees get 7 sick days per year for the first year of service. In companies with over 100 employees it’s 8 days. The number of paid sick days rises slightly with seniority.
Salaried Sick Leave Abuse
Here’s where it gets really interesting. When salaried employees take too much sick time and your company doesn’t have a fixed policy, your arms are tied. There’s not much you can do but sit back and watch your employee call in sick whenever they want. The reason for this is that salaried employees are protected in most cases from pay deductions. There are two situations in which problems may arise:
No sick leave policy: While most full time salaried employees have sick leave benefits, it’s not mandated by Federal law and is only mandated by a few states and cities. As a result, some salaried employees don’t have sick benefits because their companies don’t offer them. But since you can’t generally make deductions to salaried employee’s pay what do you do with a salaried employee who gets sick and doesn’t have any benefit? In many cases, they end up getting the benefit by default.
Unlimited leave policy: Additionally, companies who offer unlimited sick time have no legal way of making deductions to the salary of an exempt employee who takes “too much” sick time. According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, 3% of companies offer unlimited paid sick time. This could, potentially, be a problem for a big chunk of workers.
Here’s why pay deductions can be so complicated for a salaried employee:
The concept of salary
The reason that you can’t generally deduct a salaried person’s pay is because exempt employees don’t make overtime – they are exempt from making overtime. The presumption is that they work more than 40 hours a week due to the type of work they do. So there can be a little give and take in their total weekly hours. Since they don’t get overtime for the weeks that they work over 40 hours, you can’t dock them pay for the weeks when they work fewer than 40 hours.
An employer can deduct from a salaried employee’s pay under certain circumstances.
- Salaried employees don’t need to be paid for full workweeks in which they perform no work.
- Partial day absences may only be deducted from an employee’s sick or vacation “bank”. Once that is exhausted, partial day absences cannot be deducted from an exempt employee’s salary.
- Full day absences for personal reasons may be deducted from an exempt employee’s salary if there is no vacation time in their time-off “bank”.
- If the employee misses a full day’s work due to illness, the employer can dock pay after the sick leave allotment has been exhausted. But this is only possible if there is a fixed sick leave policy in effect.
If an employee takes off sick all the time and there is no policy in effect, then because of the nature of a salaried employee, the employer could not deduct the day from the employee’s salary. Similarly, if the employee has an unlimited benefit and takes off sick all the time, the employer cannot deduct from the employee’s salary because there would be an inexhaustible number of sick days to allot to the absence and so, legally, could never deduct from the employee’s pay.
Setup Sick Time Policy With Timesheets.com
Tracking sick time is easy with a Timesheets.com account. Each employee has their own time off settings. The manager selects which rate to use and how much time off employees should receive. Then, all employees have to do is make their time off requests based on their available balances.