Should hourly employees get paid sick leave?

Question: “I work for a small company and right now we give all of our employees, both salaried and hourly, five paid sick days per year. The company is deciding if hourly employees should continue to get this benefit. These hourly employees work a full 40-hour week. What do other companies do?” — Nancy Shortino


All of our employees, both salaried and hourly, get the same time off benefits. Sick days, however, are not in a separate “bank.” We have what we call “ETO” (earned time off) which includes vacation and sick time.

With our company, we accrue both vacation and sick leave. Vacation is accrued at .038 per hour worked. Sick leave is accrued at .019 per hour worked. This way both full time and part time can earn leave.

I don’t think hourly or salary should make a difference if the employee is working full-time. People who work part-time have more options for scheduling doctor appointments and getting rest. It becomes much more challenging to do those things when an employee works full-time and if you don’t offer paid time to your hourly folks, they might drag themselves in sick and make everyone else sick or feel resentful about taking unpaid time for illness when they are putting in the hours. This is especially true if you have a policy paying sick time to hourly employees and then take it away — watch out for morale to go down if you pull this benefit!

Our company allows employees to earn personal/sick hours. Each month worked adds 4 hours to your allowed sick/personal hours for full time workers. This works out to 48 hours a year. Once a year they pay out anything over the 48 hours providing an incentive not to use them. They usually do it at the end of October so it makes for a nice check just in time for Christmas shopping!

I have been on both sides of the fence in that in some positions I’ve been hourly and in others, salaried. The only thing worse than being ill, is being ill and knowing that if you have to stay home a day or two or, worst case, a week, that the money stops, too. I realize that there are always those employees who are going to abuse their sick leave, and those employees need to be dealt with on an individual basis. It isn’t fair that EVERYONE suffers new rules because one or two people have integrity issues. Sick leave should be mandatory. We’re the only country in the world who has companies that limit your number of sick days. In other countries, if you’re sick, you stay home, and your paycheck doesn’t suffer. We’re becoming a very “me me me” society and one way to stop it is for companies to become more family-oriented in their dealings with their employees. One day’s pay may not be much to one person, but to another its a tank of gas, a gallon of juice or milk or a utility bill. We need to be kinder and more cognizant of each other. People who abuse sick leave should have consequences. However, denying any kind of pay for taking a day off and opting to stay home rather than infect the entire office, should be against the law. There’s MY two cents.

Absolutely! We even allow our part time employees to accrue paid leave (undifferentiated) on the basis of hours worked. Barbara is right: If they’re used to having a benefit and you discontinue it (and only for SOME at that!), you better have some sort of “sweetener” or offset benefit to offer, or morale will go through the basement, and I bet a lot of them will start shopping for another job in hopes of better pay, better benefits, and the desire to feel valued by management.

All employees, regardless of exempt or non-exempt, get up to 12 days a year for sick time. We do not have short-term disability, and long-term disability kicks in after 30 days, so everyone is strongly encouraged to let their hours accumulate so that if something happens, they have enough time to be paid those 30 days. Also, we ENCOURAGE, rather than discourage, people to call in sick if they are contagious. Too many companies don’t want people to call in sick, and then are amazed that sicknesses work their way through the staff. We think giving more sick time, and encouraging people to use it, ends up saving us in the long run by less people getting sick.

At our organization, we have what we call full time salary, full time hourly, regular part time.

The full timers all earn the same amount of vaca/sick time.

However, the regular part time, as long as you are 30 hours a week, you earn vaca/sick time as well.

The difference between the two, full time earn say 4.3 hours per pay check, the regular part time earn say, 2.1 per pay check. It all ends up to 10 sick days per year, just the regular part timer may get 6 hrs sick time per day and full timers get 8.

We have the same for vacation, the full timer here 5 years get 4 weeks so does the part timer here 5 years. the full time is 40 hr weeks, and p/t is 30 hrs per week.

keep the staff happy and your retention rate goes. we are now an employer of choice with staff here over 30 years.

Our company allows both salaried and hourly employees to accrue sick leave benefits at the rate of 6 days per year (1.85 hours per bi-weekly pay period). I definitely agree that hourly employees should accrue sick leave benefits. No one wants sick co-workers coming in making everyone sick!

Hourly/Salaried, shouldn’t be a difference. We are a small company with 50 employees, some are hourly. We have PPL, Paid Personal Leave, all full-time employees accrue at a rate of 2 yrs or less = 5.00 hrs, 2+ yrs = 6.67 hrs, 10+ yrs = 8.33 hrs per pay period (24 pay per in yr) This is sick/vac/whatever. We do not separate it. This works out well for everyone.

We used to have separate days for sick and vacation. Sick days did not roll over from year to year. We found that there were people abusing the sick time and the good people didn’t benefit from being honest. We decided to combine sick and vacation into PTO and instead of just “getting it” the time would be awarded based on actual hours worked. Also, we offer each employee a chance to take a payout (dollar for dollar)if they have at least 16 hours in the bank. In hindsight the one thing we probably should have considered was giving salaried people, who typically work 45-50 hours per week, more time off than hourly people who typically only work 40 hours.

At our company hourly and salaried employees both accrue sick leave. The hourly employees earn 10 hours per month. The salaried employees have all leave combined and earn PTO (Paid Time Off) that must be used for vacation or sick leave.

Of course the hourly should get sick leave. Hourly workers are not sub-human, lesser beings. We have both salaried and hourly workers and we all receive 4 paid sick days per year. The days roll over if unused, which is actually an incentive to NOT abuse the time. (If it didn’t roll over and you were going to lose it, why wouldn’t you use it?) I wouldn’t take away this benefit. I think you would have mutiny!

So many contributors are emphatic about what should or should not be done! Truth is, though, none of us knows what should or should not be done unless we know the full compensation and benefits package of the organization or company…and we don’t have that info. So I won’t tell you what “of course” you should do.

I will tell you that I work for a non-profit organization, and we have a PTO system (personal time off) and employees get a bank of days that they can use for sick or vacation time aside from the designated holidays the company pays for. Newly hired staff who are FLSA exempt (salaried) accrue PTO days at one rate, and newly hired staff who are FLSA non-exempt (hourly) accrue at a different rate. By time people hit the 10-year mark everyone accrues at the same rate. It’s up to the individual to decide how she/he will use her/his PTO days.


1) Forget that your hourly employees are the foundation of your business and are the worker bees that get the job done.

2) Give your hourly employees the message that they’re not as important as management by taking away benefits.

3) Start by discontinuing the basic, really important benefits like sick time. Folks who are already living paycheck-to-paycheck will love you for this. Your employees will spread their illness around so your whole staff will eventually share it and productivity will plummet.

4) Then cut other basic benefits, like bathroom breaks, and being able to call your daycare provider, spouse or child’s school if needed. You get the idea; be creative.

5) Unfortunately you won’t be able to cut costs by eliminating lunch. Most states have a law that requires employees working over 7 hours to take a break. However, if you pressure your employees enough to make them feel guilty about work that is undone, you can increase productivity by making them feel like they have to work through lunch without pay. They’ll love this too.

6) As morale quickly drops, you’ll lose your best employees – this is fine though because now you’re cutting labor, which is also a good way to keep a company small.

7) Watch with excitement how small your company will remain when you fail to attract quality, forward thinking, intelligent, promotable applicants due to the lack of basic benefits as part of your employment package.

8) Retain employees who are crabby and difficult and who put up with being treated poorly by their employer. They’ll also come in handy for discouraging those silly employees who start complaining about a lack of the basic benefits.

Sound ridiculous? It sure does. But does it happen? Unfortunately, yes. Don’t start down that path; it’s foolish to make a choice that will have such a huge financial and personal impact on your team members and in turn will affect the bottom line, which is what this discussion is really about. Find another way to cut costs.

Good luck. If you decide to cut sick pay, you’re going to need it.

I must say that I am truly blessed. I am a part-time employee (12-15 hours per week) 4 hrs. per day x 3 days, and I get what is called Paid Time Off (PTO)in the amount of 9 hours per year. I can use the time off for vacation or sick time, in increments of 4 hours. If I don’t use all of the PTO by the end of the year, the PTO reverts to cash and I get a check for the balance. I have a GREAT boss!

The organization I work for has a total of 37 employees. Some are salaried and some are hourly. All our staff receives 8 sick hours per month (or 1 day per month). Hourly staff can use this time in 1-hour increments but the salaried staff must use it in 4-hour increments. I believe that all staff should have some type of day off benefit whether it be sick/vacation time or PTO. We are not robots but human beings and we need this benefit for sanity. Not only would this effect morale, but also retaining any type of good employees. Thankfully, I work for a boss that also believes in this!!!

At our company full-time employees regardless of being hourly or salary you get 3 sick days at the beginning of each year. Part-time employees do not get sick time. When it comes to time off (sick, personal, vacation) I think as long as you are a full-time employee it should be the same whether you are salary or hourly.

CORRECTION! I meant to say 9 DAYS per year, NOT 9 hours (smiles).

If you do not give some days as sick/personal days what happens is the sick employee comes to work so he/she gets paid and succeeds in getting the rest of the office sick. The understanding with all employees should be that sick days are tolerated not a gift of some more days off. In a small operation the employees who take off “sick” have to be told that they are affecting other employees work since they would have to pick up the slack. We actually had one employee who abused the system until the others complained directly to her and she improved.

At our large corporation, associates receive Paid Time Off (PTO). PTO covers vacation and sick time for salaried and hourly associates.

The amount of PTO everyone receives is based on their years of employment. For example, full time associates start out with ten (10) days of PTO. In general, for every five (5) years of employment, associates earn a two (2) more PTO days. Part time associates receive PTO proportioned the number of hours they work.

The corporation monitors Unplanned Time Off for abuses of the system. Because people want to use their PTO for vacations, very few people are using their PTO for sick time. This can also backfire because people who are sick and should stay home are coming to work. If an associate is sick over five (5) continuous days (not counting the weekend), then short term disability kicks in.

To “With Due Respect”….Bravo!!

Why would you want to deny your hourly employees paid sick leave? What kind of negative message does it send to them? In these times of higher costs for food, gas and energy and housing market meltdown, people are very worried about making ends meet. Why would you want to take away a well-deserved benefit from only your full time hourly employees? If somebody is abusing their sick leave, their boss should be talking to them, specifically how it has a negative effect on the other employees and how it can affect their chances for raises and/or promotions. You really don’t want to have actively sick employees infecting other employees because they can’t afford to stay home. Benefit takeaways which discriminate against one class of employees are sure to be morale-busters. Maybe you should consider PTO as expressed in other posts. People on PTO usually manage their sick time effectively and efficiently because they want to maximize their healthy time off. Our company gives 4 hours per pay period (13 days a year) of sick leave to all employees, hourly and salaried. Unused sick leave rolls over, and if you accumulate enough of it over the course of an entire career, it can be used to extend your length of service and increase your retirement benefit. Also, if you have a lot of accumulated sick leave, the one time you have a serious illness, you are covered and will be paid.

My employer does not offer sick leave for hourly employees. Instead, they pay a “wellness bonus” for employees who do not miss any days in a quarter. These two factors combined ensure that sick employees will come to work and infect other employees.

Recently, I was very sick, but came to work anyway. When several people complained that I should stay home, I responded that I would love to, but if I did, I wouldn’t have a home to stay at for long.

What are we…chopped liver? This is just wrong, and I’ll leave it at that. Every employee where I work gets sick leave. This is the way it should be – period.

We are similar to what Tracy said about salaried and 40-hr hourly and PT 30-hr earns at the same rate based on the hours they work. PT-30 also gets holiday time based similarly on avg hours worked. Instead of sick and vacation, we earn “flex time” that is used for either. We offer LTD (used mostly for maternity) at the employee’s expense. STD is covered by the employer.