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Compassion of ‘Donated Leave’ Comes With Caveats

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in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Office Management,Payroll Management

When a health crisis drains an employee’s regular allotment of paid time off, some companies allow other employees to donate their own leave to help out. Contributors to our HR Specialist Weekly offered these suggestions for making it work, and offered a few cautions as well.

Voluntary & confidential

“We did this for an employee who was undergoing cancer treatment when she ran out of sick leave. It was totally voluntary and no one felt obligated to do so. The employee did not know who did or did not donate time.” — Christine, Florida

“Everything is kept confidential so the person receiving doesn’t know who or how much time someone donated and neither do the other employees. Not everyone will have time to donate and should not feel guilty.” —Jackie, Florida

Emergencies only

“We do have a leave-donation policy but we limit it to those employees who are experiencing catastrophic-type illnesses and who have exhausted their leave to take care of their medical condition.” —Beth, Texas

“The employee receiving the donated time must have exhausted all accrued time off—including sick leave, vacation, personal leave and compensatory time off—before receiving donated time.” —J.P., California

Sweat the details

“Details are important in a good policy: How much time is granted; for what reasons; who reviews it; and the appeal process.” —Loree, New York

Beware accounting issues

“We would love to allow staff this added benefit but determined not to for the following reason: Employees are paid at different rates of pay and time off is earned at that particular employee’s rate of pay. Legally, this could result in a nightmare unless the two rates of pay are exactly the same.” —Marilyn, California

“Recently, an employee’s wife was suffering from a terminal illness. We decided to put out an e-mail asking other employees if they would be willing to give some benefit time to help him out financially. It was handled like this: Employee A donated four hours to the employee (let’s call him Employee B). Employee A makes $10 an hour, but Employee B makes $20 an hour. Employee A donated $40 worth of time, so Employee B got credit for two hours of benefit time or $40.” —Elizabeth, Pennsylvania

Too generous?

“I would strongly suggest a form for donating employees to sign, in which they acknowledge the donation may potentially place them in a position where they may be forced to take unpaid leave should they become ill or disabled without enough time remaining in their bank.” —Carol, Michigan 

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