Sick leave is paid time off from work that an organization voluntarily provides employees as a benefit. Sick leave is used when an employee is temporarily ill and coming to work would pose potential contagion to other employees. Sick leave also benefits an employee who will not be able to work effectively because of illness.
Some organizations allow the use of sick leave to take care of ill family members. The amount of sick leave is often accrued by employees based on years of service to the organization and the level of their position. Other companies, however, keep sick leave simple - every employee receives the same amount of sick leave.
While there are no Federal laws in the U.S. that require an employer to offer paid sick leave currently, employers of choice offer employees paid sick leave as part of a comprehensive benefits package.
Legislation to mandate employers to pay sick leave is under consideration in several states and at the Federal level. San Francisco (2007) was the first locale in the U.S. to mandate employers to provide paid sick leave. Passage of a sick leave requirement nationally is anticipated; worldwide, most nations require paid sick leave ranging from 5-30 days.
Either paid sick leave or PTO, is expected in most industries as part of a comprehensive benefits package. The major employee groups not covered by sick leave policies are part-time employees and employees in the service industry. The percentage of U.S. employees who receive paid sick leave in March, 2007 was 57%, with 80% for managerial employees and 72% for employees making $15 an hour or more.
Employees may receive other types of paid leave.