How Does “Mandatory Paid Sick Leave” Affect You?

For quite some time, jurisdictions have had laws on the books requiring that employers grant employees sick leave without pay. Mandatory compensation while away for sick leave had never really been an issue. Over the past few years, however, momentum has been increasing to make it the law that workers be compensated while away from work for time taken off for sick leave.

One of the most prevalent arguments in favor of mandatory paid sick leave is that the employee can’t afford financially to take time away from the workplace while ill. In this scenario, the sick employee chooses to return to the workplace, thus exposing co-workers to the very germs that made them sick in the first place. So, instead of staying home recuperating from their illness, a contagious returning employee increases the chance that co-workers will get sick and further damage the productivity of the company.

On the other hand, opponents (employers) argue that the mandatory paid sick leave measures make it that much harder to remain competitive and hire new employees. Furthermore, business groups contend that requiring firms to provide paid sick leave benefits will force them to raise prices and consider reducing employees’ hours or other benefits.

According to, mandatory sick leave supposedly affords the following benefits:

    • Paid sick days help family caregivers manage both their caregiving responsibilities and the jobs they need to support their families. Sixty-six million American adults are unpaid caregivers for family members or friends — and the number is growing.

This following graphic at USA Today shows the states and cities where paid sick leave is required or being considered, as well as which states have prohibited local governments from enacting their own paid sick leave requirements.

From the governmental perspective, at present, many government employees have access to paid sick days. All states provide paid sick days to at least some state employees, and the federal government provides thirteen paid sick days a year to its nearly 2.5 million full-time employees that can be used for self or family care. A chart summarizing the key points in existing paid sick days statutes (updated as of December 2015), and a brief overview of the policies (as of August 1, 2015), is viewable at