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Don’t Allow Unlimited Sick Leave

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Our company gives eight hours of sick leave per month to nonexempt employees. We've been told that, under the FLSA, exempt employees are to be paid whenever they are sick. So our exempt employees have virtually an unlimited sick-leave balance. Is this a correct way to interpret the FLSA? Should we have some type of sick-leave accrual and tracking for our exempts? —D.H., Kentucky

A. Exempt employees should not have unlimited paid sick leave. Your company can make pay deductions for sickness absences of a day or more as long as you have a policy that provides compensation for the loss of salary due to sickness.

So if an employee is absent for a day or more due to sickness, dock the exempt employee's salary for that absence and take time from the employee's sick-leave “bank” to cover it. If that worker uses up her accrued sick leave, you can deduct additional absences from her salary.

Note: You can deduct from an exempt employee's salary when she's absent for a full day or more for personal reasons other than sickness. But the general rule for private employers is that the FLSA doesn't allow any reduction in pay or docking for partial-day absences, whether or not it's for illness.

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