Mandatory paid sick time legislation is spreading quickly. Many states and municipalities have already legislated laws and ordinances. Employers need to keep their eyes on this trend.

The International Foundation’s Employee Benefit Survey 2014 found 92.7% of its corporate members and 97.6% of its public (government) sector members offered paid sick leave, either as a standalone plan or within a paid-time-off (PTO) bank. Employers belonging to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans are more likely than other U.S. employers to offer paid sick leave.

However, the U.S. Department of Labor’s March 2014 National Compensation Survey found only 61% of private industry employees and 89% of state and local government employees in the United States had access to paid sick leave. That may explain why more and more states and municipalities are adopting mandatory paid leave laws.


Four states, 17 cities and one county had paid sick leave laws on the books as of June 24, 2015, as shown on a chart from A Better Balance titled “Overview of Paid Sick Time Laws in the United States.”

States with paid sick time laws currently include Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Oregon. Cities include San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville, California; Washington, D.C.; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Trenton, Montclair, Bloomfield and Jersey City, New Jersey. The county is Montgomery County, Maryland.

For employers already providing paid sick leave, the patchwork of laws and ordinances makes human resources and employee benefit professionals’ jobs even more complex. As one might expect, none of the rules are quite the same, and employers must make sure their own sick leave policies comply with applicable laws.

Employers not currently providing paid sick leave may soon be required to do so. According to a July 2015 report from the National Partnership for Women & Families, states with active campaigns to enact paid sick days legislation include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

New developments in paid sick time laws appear regularly in the Foundation’s daily e-mail to members, Today’s Headlines. Stay tuned for breaking news on this and other employee benefits topics.

Lois Mathis-Gleason, CEBS
Manager, Reference/Research Services at the International Foundation


Lois Gleason, CEBS

Manager, Reference/Research Services at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation service/product: The Employee Benefits Survey (conducted every few years; it is very comprehensive)

Benefits-related topic top picks: Affordable Care Act, multiemployer pension plans

Favorite Foundation conference moment: Working the bookstore/information center at the Employee Benefit Symposium and meeting our members

Personal Insight: When she’s away from work, Lois likes to dive into 19th century Brit lit novels by Dickens, Eliot, Hardy and the Bronte sisters. These works are spicy and action-packed when compared to the employee benefit rules and regulations she reviews all day.

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