Time for A Leave Policy Check-Up

12.30.20Baylee Davies

Time for A Leave Policy Check-Up

These days we are checking up on our health and taking extra precautions when it comes to our well-being…but what about when it comes to our business? The new year is a perfect time to check-up on your leave policies to make sure you are in compliance with present-day requirements. For sick leave programs, companies are required to accrue the leave and pay the employee their wages when they use sick leave for a qualified reason. Paid medical and family leaves are normally financed by the employer and/or the employee through payroll deductions. Some of the programs are administered by the state and others require the employer to provide a program through an insurance provider.  

Unless otherwise noted, the new requirements become effective on January 1, 2021.

New Employer Paid Sick Leave Requirements


  • Employers with 16 or more employees nationwide will need to provide paid sick leave for their employees beginning January 1, 2021. Employers with 15 or fewer employees nationwide do not need to comply until 2022.
  • Employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work but employers may cap the annual accrual at 48 hours.
  • Employers may choose to front-load sick leave hours at the beginning of the year.
  • Unused accruals must be carried over to the next year but do not need to be paid out at termination.


  • Employers with 10 or more employees in Maine must provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked for a maximum cap of 40 hours per year.
  • Employers may frontload the 40 hours of leave at the beginning of a year.
  • While the leave is modeled after other states’ sick leave programs, employees can use this leave for any reason, it is not limited to only illness-related reasons.
  • Unused leave carries over to the next year unless the employer front loads the leave at the beginning of each year.
  • If the employer has an established policy or practice of paying vacation time at termination, they will also need to pay out accrued but unused sick leave.

New York State

  • Employees will receive an amount of sick leave depending on the size of the company
    • 100 or more employees: 56 hours of paid sick leave per year
    • 5 to 99 employees: 40 hours of paid sick leave per year
    • 4 or fewer employees with net income of greater than $1 million in the previous tax year: 40 hours of paid sick leave per year
    • 4 or fewer employees with a net income of $1 million or less in the previous tax year: 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year
    • Employees began accruing the leave on September 30, 2020, at a rate not less than one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may also front-load the required amount of sick leave at the beginning of the year.
    • Accrued but unused sick leave carries over to the next year.
    • Employees may begin using accrued sick leave on January 1, 2021.

New or Expanded Paid Medical and Family Leave Programs


  • California’s existing paid family leave was expanded to 8 weeks in 2020.
  • Starting in 2021, employees may also take paid family leave for a new reason called Military Assist. Military Assist benefits are available to employees who need time off work to assist with the military deployment of their spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, or child to a foreign country.


  • The Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Act won’t take effect until January 1, 2022, but employers must start taking deductions from employees’ paychecks to fund the program on January 1, 2021.
  • Employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year to care for themselves or family members.
  • Employees who are disabled by pregnancy can take an additional two weeks for a maximum of 14 weeks of paid leave.


  • Employees are able to take 12 weeks of paid family leave and 20 weeks of paid medical leave for their own health conditions.
  • Paid medical leave can be taken for the employees’ own serious health condition.
  • Paid family leave can be taken to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to bond with a new child, to care for a family member who is a member of the US Armed Forces or to manage family issues if a family member goes overseas on active duty.
  • If the employee is caring for a service member in the family they may take 26 weeks of leave.

New York

  • The New York paid family leave program began in 2018 and is being expanded for 2021.
  • Beginning in 2021, eligible employees may now take 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or assist a family member who has been called to active duty.
  • The paid family leave wage replacement benefit will increase to 67% of the employee’s average weekly wage up to a cap of $971.61 per week.

How SDHRC Can Help

These guidelines are a great starting point to help you check up on your leave policies for the new year. But don’t stop there! At San Diego Human Resources Consulting, we are here to gauge if your leave policies are within the compliance range. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help and get the process started with confidence and ease.

About the Author

Traci Hagan, “Treasure Trove”

Traci is an HR Consultant who has been with SDHRC for over 4 years but has over 32 years of experience in employee relations, conflict resolution benefits administration, training and development, workers’ comp, and staffing. Traci’s experiences encompass multi-organizational and cross-cultural issues which allow her to expertly charter the waters of complex problems and where she thrives by discovering and providing solutions for smoother sailing.