Every once in a while, workers call in sick. For a company, it is obligatory to allow them time to recover from sickness. It works for the benefit of both workers and employers. This is why federal and local regulations have a provision for sick leaves.
Failing to comply with the rules makes an organization susceptible to fines and legal actions. We created this detailed sick leave policy guide to help companies and managers understand what it is and why it is mandatory to maintain.
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What is sick leave?
Sick leave is paid leave that companies provide to workers when they feel unwell or ill. These leaves are not part of the paid vacation time, and every employer has to offer it mandatorily to the workers as per the law.
Sick leaves are also titled medical leave, sickness absence, or sick days in company policies. Depending on the company’s location and the local laws, the employers’ obligations and employees’ entitlements to the sick leave policy differ.
When managers create the employee sick leave policy, they must consider several factors, such as how many sick days employees can take, how much the company can pay them for sick days, and the eligibility criteria. There is often a difference between the sick leave policy and procedure for short-term and long-term illnesses.
What are the rules regarding sick leave policy in different countries?
Laws are present in all countries that make statutory sick leave compulsory at all companies. Employers must comply with these regulations and provide workers with paid sick days per local law.
Sick leave rules in India
Most of the sick day policies at a company/organization are set under the State’s Shops and Establishment Act. But there are other applicable laws specific to the role or the industry.
As per the Indian Shops and Establishment Act, sick leave policies must provide the following:
- Minimum 0.5 to maximum seven days (paid) sick leaves
- For sick days, extending three days, employers can ask for a medical certificate
- Sick leaves can be appended with earned leaves
- Sick days are not carry-forwards or encashments and lapse automatically at the end of the calendar year
Additional paid sick days laws:
- Apprentices Act, 1961 – Section 15 (Rule 13) makes it mandatory that interns or apprentices can avail of medical leave for a maximum period of 15 days in a year and, in case of accumulated leave, up to 40 days in a year.
- Plantation Labour Act, 1951 – Section 32 governs the sick leave policy for employees in the plantation industry and entitles workers to get sick leave by company policies.
- Working Journalist and Other News Paper Employee’s (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 suggests that employees will be eligible for one month of medical leave for every 18 months of service and will be paid half the wages.
Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 – Section 4, any employees under this act can have a sick leave of not less than one-eighteenth of the service period at half the wages.
Sick day policy in the US
In the United States, currently, there are no federal legal requirements for paid sick leave. However, for companies under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), unpaid sick leaves must be provided to workers.
According to FMLA, employers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations for workers or their immediate family members. Also, companies can substitute paid leave for unpaid FMLA sick day leaves.
Workers who have worked with their current employer for at least 12 months are eligible for FMLA leaves and must have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.
Sick leave as per the UAE Labour law
Under the UAE Labour law, a worker is entitled to sick leaves of not more than 90 days per year at the end of the probation period. The 90 days’ sick leave can be continuous or intermittent, and the salary paid will be as follows:
- full payment for the first 15 days
- half pay for the next 30 days
- no pay for the rest 45 days
However, workers can get sick leave without pay, subject to the approval of the employer and based on a medical report issued by the medical body recognized by the government.
Does sick leave have to be paid?
As clearly highlighted in the above section, the rules regarding paid sick days differ per country and state.
In India, paid sick days must be provided to workers for seven days as per the Shops and Establishment Act, but additional provisions depend on local laws.
For US employees, there is no provision for paid sick days. The employees who themselves or their immediate family members falling under the FMLA Act are allowed unpaid sick leaves by the law.
The UAE Labour Law is most generous, making it mandatory for companies to offer up to 30 paid sick days to the workers.
What to include a sick leave policy?
A comprehensive and employee-friendly sick leave policy outlines the company’s code for employees who are ill and are unable to attend work.
Your company’s sick leave policy must include:
- The scope explains how sick leaves work.
- Rules regarding unused sick leaves.
- The procedure to apply for sick leaves.
A sick leave policy sample
Our company’s sick leave policy outlines our company’s provisions for employees who become sick and need to be absent from work. The following sample policy specifies how sick leave will be accrued and how it may be used.
This company sick leave policy applies to all our employees who have been with our company for at least [X months.]
Our workers may only be able to perform their duties if they get sick. Our company follows legal guidelines that may apply to sick leaves and pay to provide a healthy work environment. We’ll also offer [X days] of [paid/ partially paid] sick leave. This leave is separate from other types like maternity leave and Paid Time Off (PTO).
How do sick days work?
Our workers can take sick leave when they want to:
- Recover from sudden illness Recover from accidents/injuries
- Receive mental/psychological care or counseling when necessary
Employees who want to attend routine healthcare (e.g., doctor’s/dentist’s appointments) should use their PTO.
Unused sick leave policy
Employees will receive [X] additional day/s every [1 year] working for our company. Depending on the law, employees can accumulate unused sick leave until it reaches a certain number of days. Unused sick time may be calculated for employees’ annuity when they retire.
When workers want to use their sick time, they should notify their supervisor as soon as possible. They should also inform the supervisor for how long they’ll be absent (if possible) or report daily for every day of sick leave.
Under certain circumstances, employees might need to submit a physician’s note or other medical certification and/or complete a sick leave form. Those circumstances include but are not limited to the following:
- Being absent for more than [X days] on sick leave.
- Cases when a pattern arises result in auditing the sick leave application (e.g., employees plead sick at a specific time each week.)
- The company will handle all sick time requests with discretion.
Should employers ask to provide a doctor's note as proof of illness?
Usually, managers should only ask for proof of illness if the workers apply for an extended leave or if managers see a pattern originating.
It is not uncommon for workers to exploit the company’s sick days policy. If you find a worker asking for sick leaves repeatedly, you can ask for proof of illness.
Unless necessary, it is better to avoid asking for illness proof to show that you trust workers’ ethics and sincerity.
Do employers have to pay for unused sick leave?
Employers must provide paid sick days to workers if the company is registered or operating in India or UAE. However, there is no provision forcing employers to pay for unused sick leaves.
It is entirely at employers’ discretion if they choose to pay for unused sick leaves.
How to implement and manage sick leave policy?
Depending on your industry and the workforce size, there are several ways to implement a sick leave policy. Most large organizations have human resource management systems for maintaining such policies, but companies in industries like manufacturing, construction, mining, retail, and facility management require more efficient solutions.
Truein is a hardware-less, cloud-based time and attendance management solution that offers comprehensive leave management features. It is already trusted by over 300 brands across 25 countries for improved workforce management.
It allows managers to implement leave policies easily and do month-end calculations. Not just for sick leaves, Truein has a robust leave management process for managing daily/hourly leaves, carry forward leaves, or customized leaves. You can also enable the sandwich leave policy to auto club usual week offs with the paid leaves.
Companies can set up a multi-level approval paradigm to ensure that the sick leave policy is rightfully implemented. Schedule a free demo today and see how Truein can automate the leave and attendance management process in your organization.
A sick leave policy is not just a formal requirement but a mechanism to create a healthy work environment for workers and foster positive employer-employee relationships. A company must maintain and implement a sick days policy to provide workers with a clear idea of the company’s sick leave policy and procedure and stay compliant with the law.
This sick leave policy guide will guide you through creating a comprehensive policy for your organization in compliance with the law.