Splitting Vacation & Sick Leave
At our company we have converted our old vacation policy into a PTO policy. This has resulted in some unhappy employees who do not like the inflexibility of being able to save that PTO for vacation, and take unpaid days off when sick.
Does anyone have a policy that splits the PTO into vacation and unpaid sick, and will that still meet the intent of the law. My reading of “653.611 Substantially equivalent policies” in the law leaves some room for other policies that give “substantially equivalent” programs. I would like a policy where: The employee gets 40 hours of unpaid, protected sick, and 40+ (depending on tenure) hours of vacation. An employee can choose to take a sick day without pay by taking 8 hours of sick, or a sick day with pay, by taking 8 hours of sick and vacation on the same day. This way an employee can take their 40 hours of vacation for actual vacation, and then if they are sick a week later, still receives the vacation protections. I feel this will alleviate employee frustration with the current catch 22 of the single PTO bank.
In your opinion, does this meet the intent of the law, and is it a “Substantially equivalent policy”? Do you know of any companies with a policy like this?
From an HR point of view, I don’t recommend combining PTO and sick leave for a few reasons. One, it’s confusing for employees. Two, paid time off is a voluntary benefit employers may provide, but sick leave is now being mandated in some states (along with mandated rollovers as well). Best to keep them in separate buckets or you may get stuck paying out unused PTO. Here are three articles that can help, along with the state regs on sick leave.
Each of these articles includes a sample policy template you can download and customize. (Read the pros/cons and then decide for yourself if it’s better to have one policy or two, based on your state, city and company size.)