If you are in a state, county, or city that requires Employers to offer paid sick leave and you decide to offer it as part of an overall PTO plan instead, it is critical that you ensure the plan meets all the requirements of the mandatory sick leave law or ordinance.
These requirements usually include letting employees use their time in small increments (e.g., one or two hours), ensuring that they accrue PTO fast enough, and allowing carryover into a new year. If you’re in one of these areas, you’ll definitely want to take a close look at the law or ordinance to ensure your PTO program is compliant.
For example, with the Colorado HFWA, paid sick leave does not require additional leave if an Employer policy provides fully paid leave for both sick and non-sick leave purposes (e.g., sick time and vacation) and makes clear to employees, in a writing distributed in advance of an actual or anticipated leave request, that:
- its leave policy provides PTO
- (1) in at least a number of hours and amount of pay sufficient to satisfy the paid sick leave law,
- (2) for all the same reasons covered by the paid sick leave law (not a narrower set of reasons), and
- (3) under all the same conditions as under the paid sick leave law, not stricter or more onerous conditions (e.g., accrual, use, payment, carryover, notice, documentation, anti-retaliation);
- additional paid sick leave will not be provided when an employee uses all PTO for reasons that don’t qualify for sick leave (e.g., vacation).
The paid sick leave law does not invalidate collective bargaining agreements that provide equivalent or more generous paid leave.
Regardless of which benefits you offer, you’ll want to make sure they are clearly articulated in writing and that all employees are made aware of what is available and how the policies operate.