Do Employers Have to Provide Paid Sick Leave?

While Federal and Virginia laws govern some aspects of minimum wages, overtime and medical leave, there is no Virginia law that expressly requires private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to its employees.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), qualified employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of protected medical leave for a serious medical condition, pregnancy, or to care for an immediate family member with a serious medical condition. However, FMLA is not to be confused with a paid leave policy. While employees may receive compensation by virtue of an employer’s sick leave or short term disability policies, the primary purpose of the FMLA is to ensure that the employer does not terminate or replace otherwise performing employees just because they suffer a temporary medical hardship.

In the 2015 Virginia Assembly session, the Senate considered a new paid sick leave bill, which sought to require private employers to provide full-time employees paid sick days, “to be accrued at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked.” The accrued sick days would then be available for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of health conditions of the employee or the employee’s family member.  Beyond the paid leave benefit, the bill sought to protect employees from discrimination or retaliation for the use of the accrued sick leave.   The proposal was defeated 11-4 in committee on 2/2/15.

SB 1407 Paid Sick Leave for Employees