Reviewing and Updating Your Sick Leave Policy

COVID-19 showed many companies that their sick-leave policies weren’t ideal. While many employers quickly outlined exceptions to their standard approaches, giving employees some flexibility about using their leave, many businesses didn’t initially have time to dedicate to reviewing and updating their policies formally.

Now that the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, addressing shortcomings in your sick leave policy is wise. That way, you can make official decisions based on lessons learned—this allows you to have a plan in place should a resurgence occur.

If you want to make sure your current sick leave policy is sufficient to handle the potential challenges tomorrow could bring, here’s how to go about it.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Compliance

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act made specific adjustments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Within it were provisions outlining certain situations that were particularly relevant early on in the pandemic, such as employee absences due to COVID-19-related health emergencies, unexpected school closures, and government-ordered quarantines.

While many of the provisions aren’t relevant today, they could be if a resurgence occurs. The law is valid through the end of 2020 at a minimum, so it’s wise to review it and compare it to your existing policies, making adjustments as needed to ensure compliance.

New State and Local Mandates

In some cases, new state and local mandates altered sick leave standards. If your policy doesn’t include the new tenets now, and the laws are still in effect, then it’s smart to make the necessary updates. That way, should conditions arise that make the mandates relevant, you’re already compliant. Plus, it gives you a chance to formally outline actions your company or employees need to take if the related scenarios occur, getting everyone on the same page.

Consider COVID-19 Scenarios

Even if your sick leave policy is fairly generous, you may want to review your offerings in the context of certain COVID-19 scenarios that may occur. For example, you may want to include verbiage about what happens if an employee arrives at your workplace with symptoms. Are there circumstances that allow management to tell an employee to leave? How would sick leave be applied in that situation? What if the employee doesn’t have any more paid time off available?

Similarly, you may want to cover sick leave use during an unexpected school closure due to the virus. Additionally, addressing voluntary quarantines due to potential exposure to COVID-19 is also vital.

It’s wise to consider the variety of situations that can arise due to COVID-19. While a company may not be able to anticipate every possible scenario, it will allow them to create contingency plans involve sick leave use or, at least, consider how it may react should something unexpected occur.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can effectively review and update your sick leave policy, the skilled staff at GSG Talent Solutions can help. Contact us today and see how our workplace policy expertise can benefit you.


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