Can my employer refuse to pay me for sick time missed from work?

They said something to the effect of I
can’t use my sick time freely until I’ve
been employed there three years. They
also said I must miss at least four
consecutive days to claim sick time? I
even went in to work in the middle of
being sick just to prove it. There’s
witnesses. It hardly seems right. I will
lose half my paycheck. The payroll lady
said she ‘did all she can’ and used my
birthday time off to make up for the
missed sick days or something like that.
I don’t think they can do that either
unless I ask for it. She said it says it
all in the employee manuals but ‘some
people have a hard time grasping the
concepts’ in a very unprofessional way.
This company treats all it’s employees
terribly, runs under dangerous
conditions sometimes, and is an assisted
living home. Hardly acceptable. State
does nothing to improve the working
conditions. We need help.

Asked on December 23, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In most jurisdictions, sick time is not legally required to be given. It is up to the discretion of an employer. Accordingly, a company can put certain restrictions on when such time can be taken so long as such restrictions are placed before the time is earned; they cannot be put on after. This all assumes that sick time eligibility, etc. is not governed under the terms of a union or employment contract; if so such a contract will control. Bottom line, absent some form of legally actionable discrimination, a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If this was in the employee manual(s) or otherwise was laid out as company policy, it is legal. The law does not require *any* sick days: it is voluntary on the part of employers to provide any. Since it is voluntary, they put any restrictions they want on the availability or use of those days, including the ones you mention, so long as those restrictions are spelled out *before* you earn the days. If you earned what appeared at the time (for example, nothing to the contrary in any policy documents or employee manuals) to be unrestricted days, they cannot legally later put restrictions on your use of those days--though they may impose restrictions on days you have yet to earn.

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