Q. If an employee is out sick but has already used up her sick-leave hours, can we legally subtract from her vacation time instead? —K.P., Michigan
A. Generally, yes. You can legally tap into an employee's vacation allotment for sick-leave absences if the employee has exhausted all of his or her sick time. Before you do, review your policies and past practices to make sure that you've handled similar situations the same way.
Also, consider implementing a paid-time off (PTO) plan, in which employees accrue time off in a single leave bank. In the past decade, many employers have converted their traditional sick, vacation and personal-day policies to PTO plans. That effectively shifts the burden to employees to manage their scheduled and unscheduled time off.