Will Paid Sick Leave Be Required In Ohio?
Kegler Brown Labor + Employee Relations Newsletter August 1, 2008
As many already know, it appears that there will be another statewide issue on the ballot this November. This one, like the previous Minimum Wage change in 2006, will ask the voters at large to approve a measure requiring Ohio employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. The measure, called the “Healthy Families Act,” is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union. The principal parts of the initiative are:
- Employers of 25 or more employees must grant seven days of paid sick leave for all full-time employees (i.e., 30 hours a week or more) and pro-rated paid sick leave for part time employees. (The initiative also provides that employers may not reduce paid leave that is already in existence, so it is unclear whether employers who have adopted a PTO type policy, eliminating sick leave per se, would be required to add seven new, additional paid sick days off.)
- Sick leave can be taken one hour at a time [for example, an employee could leave an hour early each Friday, for the whole year, due to a reported medical issue because they are permitted 56 hours (7 days x 8 hours) of sick leave].
- A doctor’s note cannot be required unless the employee misses three consecutive days of work, and even in that case the certification need not be submitted by the employee until thirty days after the absence.
- Sick leave would accrue on a monthly basis, starting at the date of hire. Paid sick days could be used ninety days after hire and can be carried over from year to year, apparently up to a maximum of seven days.
- Paid sick leave can be used for absence due to (a) an employee’s medical condition, obtaining diagnosis or care, or preventative care, and (b) for caring for a child, parent, or spouse with medical conditions or undergoing care.
- Sick leave is to be provided upon oral or written request of the employee. If the absence was not foreseeable seven days in advance, the request is to be made “as soon as practicable” once the employee becomes aware of the need for the absence.
- Employees can’t be discharged or treated adversely because they exercise the right to use paid sick days. (Paid sick leave can’t be counted under a no-fault attendance policy.)
- Remedies for violations are back pay or damages incurred, interest, treble (3x) damages, and attorney fees.
If the measure is successfully placed on the ballot and adopted by the voters, as one would imagine it will be, the Department of Commerce would presumably issue implementing regulations, which could broaden or narrow the requirements somewhat.
Many employer organizations, like the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, have announced their opposition to the legislation.
*Note: Kegler Brown will be hosting free Breakfast Briefings to explain this issue and answer all your questions on September 23 and September 30. Stay tuned for an upcoming e-vite with all the details!