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Vacationing worker got flu: Can she call it sick leave?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. One of our employees got the flu while she was out on vacation leave. Now she wants her vacation time back and wants to call those “sick days” instead. Do we have to let her change the status of this leave time? — P.N., Texas

A. No. Unless your company’s policies state otherwise, you are not obligated to replace the employee’s vacation days with sick days for the period she was out with the flu. That’s because federal law does not guarantee sick or vacation leave other than FMLA leave. Therefore, you may set your own rules, as long as they are applied uniformly.

From a practical standpoint, however, your action could impact the overall employee morale as employees would likely interpret your denial as a rigid and insensitive response to an employee’s personal situation. Also note that an employee who suffers a “serious health condition” while on vacation may be eligible for FMLA leave.


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