States mandating accrued paid leave
To date, 14 states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — and Washington, DC, have enacted paid sick leave mandates. Maine and Nevada have laws requiring accrued paid time off not limited to sick time.
All of these laws have certain common features, including the following:
- Accruals are based on the employee’s work location and start on the date of hire.
- Employers whose existing paid leave programs (e.g., time off, sick leave or personal leave) meet or exceed the maximum accrual and allow the same leave uses without more restrictions or limitations don’t have to provide additional leave.
- The term “health” includes mental health, preventive care and chronic conditions in addition to physical illness.
- Employees exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime standards are considered to work 40 hours per week.
- Properly classified independent contractors are not eligible for paid sick leave.
- Employers may require reasonable notice if the leave is foreseeable.
- If leave is unforeseeable, employees should provide notice as soon as practicable.
- Worker protections and anti-retaliation provisions apply.
- Leave mandates don’t apply to federal government employers, but may apply to state and/or local government employers.
The print-friendly GRIST’s chart can help employers track key provisions of different jurisdictions’ accrued paid leave laws, including:
- Which employers must comply, and which employees can accrue and take paid leave, including any special exceptions for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA)
- How much paid leave employees can accumulate, use and carry over from one year to the next
- Whether employers can impose a waiting period before new hires use accrued paid leave, and whether leave may be accrued and/or taken in increments other than one hour
- Whether employers may front-load or credit total annual paid leave at the start of each year and avoid the need to track hourly accruals or provide year-end carryovers
- What reasons — in addition to an employee’s own illness — justify the use of accrued paid leave
- What notice or documentation employers can require, and what information about the paid leave entitlement employers must provide to employees
- What protections — in addition to job protections — apply to employees who exercise their rights to accrued paid leave
- Whether employers have to pay out unused accrued leave at separation from employment, and what rules apply if the individual is rehired
Other leave laws not covered. The chart does not cover other leave mandates, such as:
- Paid sick leave required by local law or ordinance (other than Washington, DC’s mandate)
- More than 20 cities and counties currently have laws requiring employers to provide accrued paid leave to employees. Local mandates in California, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and Washington must be coordinated with the respective state mandate.
- Paid disability or family and medical leave programs required by state law (see this GRIST for coverage of these mandates)
- Eleven states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington — along with Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, have enacted laws providing paid leave for an employee’s own serious health condition or disability. With the exception of Hawaii and Puerto Rico, these laws also provide paid leave for qualifying family or caregiving reasons. Delaware (2022 SS 2 for SB 1) is on the verge of becoming the 12th state to require employers and employees participate in a paid family and medical leave insurance program.
- New Hampshire enacted a paid family leave program for state employees in which private employers with more than 50 employees can voluntarily participate in exchange for a tax credit (2021 Ch. 91). The program is scheduled to begin in 2023, although an effort (2022 HB 1165) is underway to repeal it. In Virginia, the Bureau of Insurance recently gained authority to regulate and approve family leave plans offered by life insurance companies (2022 Chs. 131 (SB 15) and 132 (HB 1156)).
- Federal, state or local emergency paid leave laws related to COVID-19 (see other GRISTs on federal and state/local COVID-19 leave mandates)
- No federal law requires private-sector employers to provide paid leave, unless they are federal contractors subject to Executive Order 13706. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act temporarily required some employers to provide COVID-19-related emergency paid leave during 2020. (The tax credit for small employers voluntarily providing emergency paid leave remained available through Sept. 30, 2021.)
- Unpaid job-protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and similar state laws
- Separate laws requiring job-protected leave for bereavement, organ and bone marrow donation, voting, or separate leave for employees dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault