Too Much Time Off

“I have an employee who has used all their paid sick time for the year, plus all their vacation time. She now takes unpaid time off but provides doctor’s notes and has good excuses, such as a relative who died, continued health issues, etc. However, I really need her at work. What are my options?”

Your HR Survival Tip

You are in a somewhat tricky position when an employee exceeds the allowed paid sick time. Vacation time off is easier because either they have time available or they don’t. Vacation is not intended to be an extension of sick time, so ensure employees understand they cannot just assume their request will be approved. This situation is manageable but you have to go through the steps.

When reviewing paid sick time, you need to confirm how much is allowed. While California’s state law provides 24 hours per year, numerous local sick leave laws provide more. Remote employees may be working at home where there is a local law providing more sick time than what you normally provide based on your company’s location.

You also need to review your paid sick leave policy… and, yes, you absolutely should have one. If you use accrued time off, the employee is earning a little each pay period. If you don’t have a policy that puts a limit on the maximum an employee can use each year, it makes it difficult to say the employee has used all that is allowed for the year. The law only cites a minimum you must provide, not a maximum.

Another consideration is whether the employee’s personal health issues are protected by disability laws. The bar is quite low but the law doesn’t protect conditions deemed either short-term or “curable” with proper medical care.

We can’t ask many questions while the employee still has paid sick time available. Once the employee runs out of paid sick time, it’s time to start discussing the frequency or number of absences with them. Let them know this is a problem, particularly for the job they have in the company. You may now need doctor’s notes citing the employee’s limitations, restrictions, or needed accommodations. Some accommodations are easy to provide, while others may prove impossible or just too costly. Perhaps the solution will be a different position that is more flexible.

Since CFRA (CA Family Rights Act) now covers most employees, an intermittent leave of absence may also be a possibility and includes protected time off. It’s important to have “interactive conversations” with the employee so they understand the issues and you can work together to find possible solutions. Terminating this employee should be a last resort only after you have fully explored every option with the employee.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.