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F&F Q&A: What if my employee requests sick leave but they're not sick?

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Ran into an interesting conundrum today when an employee requested the use of sick leave. . . but they weren't sick, they were't caring for someone who was sick, and they weren't away from work for any other reason covered by California Sick Leave Laws. So. . . what to do?

The best practice in this instance is typically to deny the sick pay request and to require the employee to use accrued time off or take the time away from work unpaid.

But can't I just give them the sick leave? (you may ask) And the answer is, NO - if you deduct sick pay from their balance, even at their request, for a reason that isn't covered, you could run into trouble in the future especially if the employee later needs sick pay for a covered reason.

If you want your employee to receive paid time off for this time away from work, you could consider giving them a paid personal leave of absence. This isn't something that you would want to do lightly though. If you are considering giving a paid personal leave of absence you should draft a policy and consider how you might equitably distribute this benefit when other employees make similar requests.

Want to learn more about administering leave? Check out the HR Building Block: Prepare for the Unexpected

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