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Paid sick leave: what medical practices need to know

Currently, there is no federal law that requires private sector employers, including medical practices, to provide paid or unpaid sick leave, explains a new report from XpertHR, an online service for HR professionals from Reed Business Information.

Without federal legislation in place, however, several states and local jurisdictions have taken matters into their own hands by creating their own paid sick leave laws to protect employees who may otherwise be forced to choose between going to work sick or losing pay and, in some cases, their jobs.

Although many employers voluntarily offer paid sick leave as part of their benefits packages, California, Connecticut, Oregon, and Massachusetts are among the states that have proactively passed laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers. On a local level, more than 20 municipalities have passed paid sick leave laws affecting private employers, but the paid sick leave legal landscape continues to change rapidly. 

On the other hand, many states, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, have passed preemption laws—measures that ban municipalities from passing paid sick leave laws. These state laws were designed to eliminate a hodgepodge of county, city, town or village standards.

“With the jumble of sick leave laws popping up across the country, the real concern is ensuring compliance, particularly for companies that operate in multiple locations,” says Melissa Burdorf, legal editor, XpertHR. “Employers need to do a lot of homework and fully understand all the nuances before implementing any policies or practices regarding sick leave.”

More than 43 million people, accounting for approximately 39 percent of private sector workers in the U.S., do not have the ability to earn paid sick leave, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama championed a federal law that would guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers. The proposed legislation, if passed, would provide eligible employees with as many as seven days per year of paid sick time to care for themselves or a sick family member—and would have an impact on employers, including medical practices.

The XpertHR report is available for free download here.

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