Creating and operating a business is not easy, particularly when it comes to developing paid leave plans. Employers generally recognize that employees must balance the needs of work with their outside interests and obligations. Taking time away from work is important, not just for handling illnesses and personal matters, but also for an employee’s emotional and physical well-being. As an employer, paid leave programs will affect you financially, operationally, and administratively. That is why N. Stotler Law is standing by to help when you need skilled legal assistance with developing your organization's paid leave plans.
There are various steps involved in creating a legally-sound paid leave plan for your organization. Your first step should be to speak to an attorney who has extensive experience developing and administering these plans. At N. Stotler Law, an attorney will help you with the following:
Organizations need to consider the purpose of paid leave. This could be to remain competitive with other employers or to offer rewards for employees. Organizations then need to decide whether to offer separate time-off plans for vacation, sick, or personal leave, or combine various leaves together in a comprehensive paid time off plan.
It is critical to determine how much leave you will provide and how the employees will be eligible to earn the leave. The average number of leave days awarded per year ranges significantly from employer to employer. You could create a matrix that indicates years of service and accrual rates of paid leave based on positions and hours worked. Employers need to determine whether employees will receive their paid leave at the beginning of the calendar year or anniversary year, at the start of employment, or on an accrued basis based on the number of hours or length of service.
Organizations need to clearly define in their company policies the increments of paid leave that can be used. In some cases, an employer may charge paid leave in half-day or full-day increments only. Other employers may charge paid leave in smaller increments, such as quarter-hour, half-hour, or full-hour increments.
Employers may also wish to define limits on the amount of time taken. For example, an employer may determine that employees may not take more than two consecutive weeks of paid leave off at any given time, or that single days of paid time should be limited. There may also need to be stipulated “blackout periods” when employees cannot use their paid time off.
Importantly, employers need to determine whether or not they will cap the amount of paid leave a person can accrue as well as how the paid leave will be disbursed upon separation. For instance, in Pennsylvania, vacation is considered wages and must be treated as such, unless a company policy dictates different treatment. States can vary on this point.
In all leave policies and decisions, there are underlying legal considerations. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act “ADA,” and the state equivalent, as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) require certain accommodations which could be additional leave time or require leave to be granted, paid, or unpaid, under certain designated circumstances. Understanding the interplay among paid leave, unpaid leave, and legally required leave is an employer’s biggest challenge when creating a leave plan.
If your organization is developing a paid leave plan, please speak to a skilled and experienced attorney before starting this process. Developing a sound paid leave plan is not as easy as just saying that one exists. At N. Stotler Law, you can count on having an attorney by your side throughout the entire paid leave plan development process. Attorney Stotler will help create a paid leave plan that fully envelops the vision of your organization and gives freedom to both you and your employees. You can contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 724-841-5565.