Why does my company need a Sick Leave Policy?

By Will Elton, Last updated: 2023-01-12 (originally published on 2020-12-28)

company sick leaveEffectively, a Sick Leave Policy sets out an employee’s right to sick leave, sickness allowance, and freedom from termination of their employment during sick leave according to the laws in different countries.  Essentially, as long as employees follow sick leave policy, they may use paid sick days to allow for time off.  An employer may decide to add additional allowances and stipulate other conditions in addition to statutory regulations and relevant employment ordinance. Typically, sick leave policies are laid out by a human resources manager or equivalent as part of employment policies set out for all employees. Often, sick leave policies are specified along with vacation policies or annual leave policies.

Why Do  We Use a Sick Leave Policy?

Ordinarily, a sick leave policy sets out provisions by employers for sickness allowance by employees.  While we wish for all employees to lead healthy and productive lives, occasions occur when an employee becomes sick or must care for someone who is sick. In essence, employers have a minimum responsibility, as stated by relevant employment ordinance, to offer job-protected leave for family and medical reasons.  These human resource benefits are compared across companies by prospective employees as part of employment packages.

How Are Employees Eligible for Sick Leave?

Typically, companies classify the following events as counting toward a sick leave:

  •  If the employee is out due to sickness for over a certain number of days.
  • The employee presents the employer with a note from a doctor or a medical certification requiring the employee to stay home
  • An employee has accrued enough paid sick days to apply for leave

How Many Sick Days are Employees Eligible For and Can They Be Accrued?

Firstly, review the rules and regulations in your country or state of employment for the minimum number of sick days an employee may take.  Generally, many employers will grant additional paid sick days, as specified in their respective employee handbook.  Many employers will also allow a number of days to roll over into the next calendar year.  

What Does Not Count as Sick Leave?

In general, the sick leave policy should ensure that the system is not abused.  Employees with genuine illnesses and requirements to take care of family members should be respected by employers.  However, employees should not treat sick leaves as additional vacation leaves that they are entitled to.  A healthy relationship between employers and employees require this type of balance and transparency in communications.

Can Employers Refuse Sick Time?

As long as employees follow the guidelines as laid out within the sick leave policy in the employee manual or human resources guide and has a sufficient leave balance, employers cannot refuse sick time.


A sick leave policy is an essential document to ensure transparency and clarity for new employees to a company.  Clear policy guidelines and acknowledgment from employees pave the path for a smooth start for the joiner.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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