Decoding Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

Decoding Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

Brandon Business Owner has a new concern on his radar: mandatory paid sick leave. Navigating through the terrain of paid sick leave laws feels like walking through a maze, especially when they can differ significantly at the state, county, or city level. Is it required? If so, how does one comply? This guide is tailored to demystify the complexities around mandatory paid sick leave.

What is Mandatory Paid Sick Leave?

Paid sick time allows employees to take short-term leave for illnesses, injuries, or medical appointments, without losing their pay. Whether it’s for treating a cold or taking care of a family member, paid sick leave covers a wide array of health-related absences.

The Layered Landscape: Federal, State, County, and City Laws

The U.S. currently has no federal law that mandates paid sick leave. However, 16 states along with Washington D.C., have their specific regulations.  These laws can cover various aspects, such as:

Remember, if you operate in a city that also has its paid sick leave laws, the rule of thumb is to apply the law most favorable to the employee.

What is Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

FMLA is a federal law that allows unpaid work leave for longer periods of time due to extended medical situations, for the employee or their family.

Is Paid Family Leave the Same as Mandatory Sick Pay?

No, they serve distinct purposes. FMLA typically covers longer-term needs like maternity or paternity leave, while paid sick leave is intended for shorter-term health conditions.

While there is no national requirement for mandatory sick pay, FMLA is regulated federally and also within states that have their own policies.

A Glimpse Into the Future of Paid Sick Leave Regulations

Recent trends suggest an expansion in paid sick leave laws. New legislative efforts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are pushing for more comprehensive and inclusive regulations, including provisions for public health emergencies.

Crafting a Robust Paid Sick Leave Policy

Whether it’s a legal requirement or an employee benefit you wish to offer, constructing a well-defined paid sick leave policy is essential.

Consider if your employees will accrue sick leave based on hours worked, or if you’ll allocate a lump sum annually. Additionally, your policy should be aligned with local laws and may even include “safe time” provisions for situations like domestic violence or stalking.

Sick Leave Compliance is Not Optional

Understanding and adhering to paid sick leave laws is not just a good business practice; it’s a legal mandate that varies by location. Failure to comply can result in penalties, and even lawsuits.

Like Brandon, arm yourself with the right knowledge and resources to ensure the well-being of both your employees and your business.

Remember, you’re not alone in navigating these complexities. For personalized guidance and solutions, reach out to our team of experts.


ClearPath is a leading Human Resources Outsourcing company focusing on assisting employers to leverage the independent contractor labor market. We’re committed to helping business owners stay compliant and minimize the risks associated with their contingent labor requirements.



No Legal Advice Intended. This article includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues.