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Handling Employee no-show post holiday

September 5, 2012

Question:

Hi Jennifer,

One of my employees called in sick today, and this is the second time she has called in sick after a holiday.  I am pretty sure she is taking sick days instead of having to use her vacation after a holiday.  What should I do?  Do I have to pay her for today?
Thanks,
Dr. C

Answer:

Depends.  What is your practice policy on vacation/sick days?  New York, as most states, does not require private employers to pay employees for any days not worked so long as the practice does not have a policy requiring payment.  So, if you have a written or verbal established paid time off, vacation or sick days policy that your employees are aware of, you may be violating your own policy which could cause problems for you with your employees.  If you have adopted a set policy, for instance, that vacation days must be requested at least 2 weeks in advance and that an employee has 2 sick days, and if the employee who did not come in today has already used her 2 sick days up, then you were not provided adequate notice and you may be entitled to forego paying the employee for the day's work.  Another regular example is where an employee calls in sick after the New Year, and your practice has annual Paid Time Off accrual and no carry over.  In that situation, you would also most likely be entitled to dock the employee for the sick day.  I recommend creating a written record of the absence, reviewing same with the employee upon her return, maintaining a record of same, requesting the employee sign and date the report as well as you doing so.  Also, as opposed to guessing whether you are entitled to withhold payment from a "sick" employee, I recommend adopting an established policy detailing the circumstances and opportunity employees have for sick days and other paid time off.  You may elect to forego paid time off entirely, which is not standard, but not prohibited.  Normally vacation and sick day policy is handled in the practice's employee handbook.  If you do not have an employee handbook, let me know and we can assist implementing same. 


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