What You Need to Know About Paid Sick Leave Policy Changes & COVID-19

How COVID-19 Can Change Paid Sick Leave Policies

In recent years, the expansion of paid sick leave has been seen as a recruiting tool by employers, but now it is viewed as the ethical action to take during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after recovering from the virus, some people may experience symptoms. Recovery times from the virus may take longer for different people, depending on preexisting conditions and their age. It may take a month for one individual to recover, while another person may take several months.

As a company, you need to take these varying recovery times into account when planning next year’s leave policies. Making changes to your company’s current leave policies can provide the emotional and financial relief employees need.


How to Prepare for ChangesWoman on sick leave

Preparing the workplace for paid sick leave policy changes can be complicated since the virus affects people on different levels – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Employers need to take a hard look at their current leave policies with the knowledge that not every employee recovering from COVID-19 will return to the workplace in two weeks. Overall policy adjustments will need to be applied so that operations can continue, and your employees can feel healthy and comfortable.

[Related: Maximizing Efficiency With Employees Working From Home]


Some Cases May Need to Be Treated as a Disability Under ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.”

If a person with an underlying condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or compromised immunity contracts COVID-19, then under ADA, they may qualify for disability status if they experience ongoing health complications.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance on preparing for changes in the workplace due to the pandemic in regards to the Disabilities Act. While many aspects of COVID-19 and sick paid leave policies are unclear, this guide provides detailed answers, suggestions, and resources for employers.

[Related: At-Risk Employee Accommodations During COVID-19]


Provide Emotional Support & Reassurance to Concerned EmployeesMan working remotely and video chatting with his coworkers

Another part of preparing for paid sick leave changes is communicating those changes to your company’s employees. Many individuals are worried about the financial consequences of taking leave if they contract the virus. Employers need to take the time to outline their sick-leave policies and reassure employees that the company will make the necessary accommodations.

[Related: What Employers Need to Know About Employees Who Are Afraid to Return to Work]

Companies looking for new paid sick leave policies have options available. These benefits fall into one of three categories:

Accrual arrangements – Employees earn sick leave as they work and use the accumulated time for designated purposes. Unused sick leave rolls over to the next year, up to a certain amount.

Deposit arrangements – In this category, the employer presents a set amount of sick leave days per year. Spare time does not carry over to the next year.

Paid time off (PTO) – This form of sick leave is combined with vacation time.

A complete paid sick leave policy will help a company protect itself and its employees.

For more information about changing or adjusting your company’s current sick leave policies, speak to an ESS representative today at 225-364-3000.

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