How Many Sick Days Should Employees Receive?

In July 3, 2019

Many new small business owners are unsure of how many paid sick days to offer their employees. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of paid sick days is often related with the number of years of service at a job.

For workers in private industry, the average sick days given are:

  • 7 sick days each year if workers have 1 to 5 years of service
  • 8 sick days each year if workers have 5 to 10 years of service
  • 9 sick days per year if workers have 20 or more years of service.

Additionally, employers with less than 99 workers offer less paid sick days than businesses that have over 100 workers.

But how many sick days should you give?

From a financial standpoint, employers are under no obligation to offer paid sick days, but companies that are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are expected to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific medical situations (such as the birth of a new baby) that impact the employee or his immediate family.

Companies may decline to offer paid sick leave outside of that provision, if they so choose.

Some small business owners opt out of offering paid sick days because there are challenges that come with paid sick time. If someone calls off work because they are sick, someone else has to fill in for them and the employer then has to basically pay double time for half of the work.

On the other hand, offering paid sick days does keep ill employees at home, away from healthy employees and thus keeping the number of workers down who miss work due to sickness. Because of this concern, some companies now offer unlimited sick days.

Some cities require private companies to offer paid sick leave, so you may not be entirely off the hook – especially if you run a business in San Francisco, Washington DC, Milwaukee, Seattle and the state of Connecticut.

It is typically up to the employer whether a business will offer paid sick days for the majority of companies. Some offer a number of sick days based on the amount of service of an employee while others offer no sick days or unlimited time off. Whether you should pay sick days or how many you should give depends on your company size, the jobs/work required to be done as well as the tone you hope to set as an employer.

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