Many companies have long been unhappy with workers using “sick” leave for pleasure-day outings or “sleeping in” late (after calling in “sick”) on a rainy day. In order to cut down on employee abuse of “sick leave” time,” some employers now just provide workers with a set number of “personal leave” days each year– so they no longer have to monitor what their employees do on their days off.      

As for obtaining approval to miss longer stretches of time away from work (which are not covered by the Family Medical Leave Act), you must normally obtain advance approval long before the time when you wish to be absent, especially when it falls during the summer months or around holiday seasons.                           

All of these issues become much more complex when female workers become pregnant, when they work for employers not covered by the FMLA -- or when some of their children suddenly require intensive family medical care at home.                                                              

Fortunately, in the eyes of many, this type of “sick leave” issue is now being recast as a women’s issue; statistics indicate that women continue to be more willing to take time off from their jobs to care for a sick child or parent than their husbands. Nevertheless, lengthy absences often result in discrimination and subtle or blatant threats to let the employee go who must take more time off than others.      

Current Discussions Regarding Expanded “Sick Leave” and “Maternity Leave”

Both politicians and everyday citizens keep pointing out these many sick leave inequalities to President Obama and he is definitely listening. In fact, in a recent NPR article, he said, “There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us.” He then went on to add, “"And that is not the list you want to be on by your lonesome."  That same article noted, “The U.S. is also one of the few countries that do not have national requirements on paid sick days.”

While your company may simply decide to keep a low profile on this issue, especially if you think you’ve curtailed excess absences under your current policy, the politicization of this topic – which may be fully justified – should motivate your company to start rethinking its policy now before future legislation forces it to do so.                                                                          

Time May Be Running Out to Hide Behind the Provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act

A number of companies and employers still think they can hide behind the provisions of the 1993 law, The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While that act did provide a major step forward in helping some workers take time off from work due to their own serious illnesses – or those of certain family members – not everyone was covered by it and many now believe the FMLA) didn’t go far enough. 

In fact, one article refers to this law’s holes as “gaping.” Furthermore, the FMLA’s many exemptions prevent numerous workers from being covered by its provisions. Those not protected by the FMLA include, “the more than 40 percent of people who work part-time or for small, exempt companies. Disproportionately, those people are women, single, minorities and workers with a high school education or less.”                                                                                               

In view of the FMLA’s limitations and the increasing politicization of the need for more equitable “sick leave,” it may be time to broaden your company’s sick leave rights before you are required to do so. Furthermore, it’s probably the right thing to do.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact Shane Smith Law today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

Shane Smith
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