Raleigh (NC), USA

New Paid-Leave Laws Require Employers to Change Practices

By D. Beth Langley and Sarah M. Saint, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP

Since there is no federal paid sick leave law in the US, employers’ mandates and employees’ rights vary from state to state and locality to locality. In recent years, thirteen states, Washington, DC, and several localities, have mandated paid sick leave for employees. Further, Maine recently passed a law requiring employers to provide paid leave for employees regardless of reason.

The purposes of these mandates are primarily geared toward employee rights, but the benefits to employers, including an increase in employees’ productivity and decreased spread of illness throughout an offce, demonstrate a business case for such laws. On the other hand, nearly half the states have laws prohibiting local paid-sick-leave mandates, with reasons ranging from minimising administrative oversight to protecting multi jurisdictional employers from inconsistent laws.

These inconsistencies are notable. For example, Arizona and Washington, DC, limit an employee’s maximum accrual limit based on employer size. California, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, and Vermont allow an employer to cap the maximum accrual limit at a specific amount. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Maine cap all employees’ maximum accrual limit at a specific amount. Washington, however, does not allow employers to set an accrual cap at all. Localities’ mandates are equally diverse.

Under what circumstances sick leave may be used also varies from state to state and across municipalities, ranging from having an illness or caring for ailing family members, to use of “safe time” because of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment.

Consequences for violations are also inconsistent across jurisdictions. They range from back pay, to USD 1,000 penalty per violation, to a combination.

Employers must consider whether it is subject to paid sick leave laws, and which ones. Compliance in California is particularly challenging because California not only has a state-wide mandate, but also at least seven California cities also have their own requirements. Therefore, multi jurisdictional, and even singlestate, employers should audit their paid sick leave benefits to ensure compliance with the mandates of every jurisdiction in which they operate or have employees.


D. Beth Langley

D. Beth Langley

GGI member firm
Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP
Law Firm Services
Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington, (NC) USA
T: +1 336 373 8850
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W: www.brookspierce.com

Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP is a fullservice corporate law firm providing innovative and comprehensive legal services to businesses, organisations, and individuals worldwide.

D. Beth Langley is a Partner in the firm’s Greensboro office, with over 25 years of experience counselling employers of all sizes in a wide range of employment law issues and in employment litigation involving civil rights, non-competition agreements, and trade secret protection.
Sarah M. Saint

Sarah M. Saint

GGI member firm
Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP
Law Firm Services
Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington, (NC) USA
T: +1 336 373 8850
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
W: www.brookspierce.com

Sarah M. Saint is an Associate in the firm’s Greensboro office who provides employment law counsel and representation to a wide variety of employers and advocates for public and private educational institutions in education law matters.


Published: Labour Law Newsletter, No. 07, Autumn 2019 l Photo: evening_tao - stock.adobe.com

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