Sick Leave Laws: Are There Laws Against Working While Sick?

According to Indiana sick leave laws, no employer is required under law to provide paid or unpaid sick leave to their employees. However, many employers give it as part of the employee benefit. Minor illnesses like flu are not part of the sick leave laws that provide legal protection against working while sick under federal law. Disability or severe medical conditions that present non-typical health complications or make a worker feel very sick are addressed under sick leave laws.

Laws concerning working while sick

Safety Violation

An illness or a particular medical condition can make the working environment unsafe. OSHA, a federal agency that deals with safety violations, will offer legal protection if there are safety concerns and your workers cannot report for duty. Workplace safety laws require that you grant sick leave to employees who cannot report to work, especially if they suffer from a contagious illness. Some industries, like health or food service sectors, are particularly more concerned about working while sick. Other non-regulated industries may also require workers not to report to work if they are ill.

Small Employer

The American With Disability Act will not offer any legal protection if an employer has a maximum of 14 employees. Unless the local laws of a specific state cover the employer, it means that there is no legal protection against working with a disability for a small employer. The Family and Medical Leave laws will protect employers with 50 employees and above within a radius of 75 miles. This means that if you have less than 50 employees, the Family and Medical Leave laws will not offer you any protection for serious conditions due to disability.

Serious Medical-Condition

Family and Medical-leave laws allow up to 12 weeks of sick leave for a serious medical condition. The law applies if an employer has a minimum of 50 employees within a radius of 75 miles. It also states that an employee must have worked for at least one year and 1250 hours within a year. This means that there are sick leave laws that protect in cases of severe medical conditions. However, there are specific conditions that have to be met.

According to the department of labor, the term “serious” has specific definitions. For example, “serious” means a period of treatment due to patient care in a hospital, hospice, or medical facility. It can also be a period of incapacity, among other definitions. You must understand these definitions before allowing a paid sick leave or unpaid sick leave.


An employer with 15 employees and more covered by the American With Disability Act must provide reasonable accommodation to workers with a disability. An example of reasonable accommodation could be allowed time off in case of illness related to the disability. The law, in this situation, offers protection as long as there is sufficient evidence that an employee has a disability. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific definitions of the term disability.

Final Thoughts

Some laws provide protection against working while sick as long as the situation meets certain conditions. In such cases, an employer should grant sick leave. If the situation does not meet these specific conditions, then you are under no legal obligation to grant sick leaves. However, you are at liberty to give sick leave as a work benefit. Laws regarding sick leave can be complex and present a tough topic. Employees need support during leave time, and at the same time, the work environment is competitive. ASAP Payroll helps companies navigate difficult topics like this. Contact us today for more information.

Endless Benefits of HR Software

Human resource administration is a critical and complex dimension of any successful business. A large survey conducted by consultancy Sierra-Cedar indicates business executives are “25% more likely

Read More »

Looking for Personal Service, Customized Solutions at a Competitive Price?