At some point, we all get sick. It is inevitable. Unfortunately, missing work due to illness can prove to be difficult for some employees in Florida. In fact, some common concerns include being passed up for a raise or a promotion or losing their jobs. If you’ve been retaliated or discriminated against because of time missed due to illness, know your rights. It is the first step in getting the justice you deserve.
Florida Sick Leave Laws – The Basics
From discrimination protections to overtime pay, Florida employees have rights. Rights which employers should follow but some choose to ignore for their benefit. When it comes to taking time off due to illness, it is crucial to know what you are entitled to in the workplace.
Are you wondering if you get paid for sick days? Employees who work in the public sector in Florida do have certain rights to paid sick leave, including public school teachers and those employed by various departments across the state such as the DOT.
When it comes to Florida sick leave laws, it is important to understand that private employers do not have a legal requirement to give employees paid sick days. Although, many do offer them to maintain competitiveness and attract the talent they need to run their businesses. But legally, they don’t have to.
About the Federal Sick Leave Law
When it comes to federal sick leave law, there is an important point to consider. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) instituted and enforced by the federal government does provide for limited rights for unpaid leave for many Florida employees, including employees of private-sector employers. If you are an eligible employee under the FMLA, you are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from your job during a 12 month period which can be used for:
- a serious health condition,
- to take care of a family member who is ill, or
- to take care of a new baby or child
If you are approved for this federal sick leave law, your employer must hold your position at the company while you are on leave, which includes:
- the same role,
- same duties,
- same pay, and
- the same benefits
If your employer does not adhere to this, they could be in violation of the FMLA and you should consult an employment lawyer.
Sick Days for Salaried Employees
Are you a salaried employee? If so, it is important to understand your employer’s policy on sick days for salaried employees. Some employers are stricter than others when it comes to taking time off. Under certain circumstances, an employer is legally allowed to deduct from the pay of a salaried employee.
Another way that this is dealt with is the Human Resources department could use your vacation days as sick days so you can receive your full salary. But if the illness is severe and you use all your vacation time – you will probably get deductions from your pay. If you have a serious illness or are taking care of a member that has one, look into applying for the FMLA. Again, keep in mind that this will not be paid, as mentioned above. But if you are covered under the Act, it would preserve your job for the designated duration allowed.
Common Questions about Florida Sick Leave
Can I be fired for being sick in Florida?
If you are being covered under FMLA laws, you can’t be fired for being sick as long as you comply with the FMLA. Even if your absences due to illness are not covered by the FMLA because you are not an eligible employee, or you have exhausted your FMLA leave or the illness does not qualify for protection, you may have rights to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the state law counterpart. If you do get fired, you should contact an employment law attorney to discuss your best legal options. Outside of the FMLA, and other very specific employment law statues, employers, as a general rule, have the ability and legal right to fire you. This is because Florida is an “at-will” state, meaning that they can fire you at any time for any reason — that isn’t against the law.
When you do get sick, it is essential to follow any company call-in procedures to let them know you won’t be at work. Make sure to be aware of the steps you need to take with a particular employer. Some will have different rules than others. Following these procedures gives you a certain amount of protection in an “at-will” state.
How many sick days do you get in Florida?
This can vary widely depending upon your employer’s policies and is usually located in an employee handbook or on their internal website under HR policies. Private employers are not mandated to give you any, but many do.
Does a doctor’s appointment count as sick leave?
When you have to call in sick, whether you go to the doctor or not, some employers will require you to use sick leave hours to cover the time away (or give you the option to use it). Certain managers will ask for a doctor’s note to confirm that you were indeed sick. Saving all documentation (or a copy) is a good best practice in case there is a legal issue in the future.
Is it illegal to deny sick leave?
That depends. If your employer denies you Florida sick leave after you have been approved for family/medical leave under the FMLA, then your rights as a worker have been violated. Otherwise, it is typically not illegal to deny sick leave.
Our Employment Lawyers Fight for Florida Workers
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa P.A., we have extensive experience with employment law and have helped thousands of Florida workers hold employers accountable for illegal actions. We lead the fight for your rights when they have been violated. If you have been fired in violation of the FMLA, we can consult with you for free to discuss any legal options that would be in the best interest of you and your family.
From Florida sick leave rights to wrongful termination, we are here for you to not only give you the information you need but also to fight aggressively against employers who break employment laws.
Need legal help? We service the needs of workers across Florida and offer a free, confidential consultation. Don’t delay and contact us today at 813-579-2483 or online. There are statutes of limitations and you could be running out of time. We tackle workplace issues that affect you and your family with determination, compassion, and a fierce passion for justice.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.