Hawaii does not have state-level regulations about how much or what type of sick leave employers can offer. However, Hawaii must abide by federal guidelines laid out in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) like every other state.
With this program, employees have access to considerable leave in the event of a severe illness or injury. Within the Family Medical Leave Act, employees are entitled to 12 weeks (three consecutive months) of unpaid time off for the following instances:
- Caring for an injured or ailing military family member
- Caring for an ill non-military family member
- Bonding with a new child
- Recovering from a short- or long-term illness
The FMLA is one of the top resources for employees to access unpaid family sick leave if their employers don’t have private policies. However, employees must meet certain qualifications before being able to use this type of leave.
The most common requirements employees must meet include:
- Must have worked for their employer for a minimum of 12 months
- Must work in a location that hosts 50+ employees within 75 miles
- Must have contributed at least 1,250 working hours the previous year
If you meet all of the above requirements, you could be entitled to 12 weeks of family leave. During this time, employees will be granted access to their existing health insurance plans through their employers. Also, they can use their accrued paid time off instead of taking unpaid leave.
Based on state regulations, employers in Hawaii are not required to offer paid or unpaid sick leave benefits. However, like all other states, they must abide by federal guidelines regarding sick leave.
Fortunately, most employers in Hawaii opt to offer individualized sick leave plans for employees. Without these benefits, employees will need to consider taking sick leave under the Family Medical Leave Act if they qualify.
Employers who establish private sick leave plans must abide by the guidelines explained in employment contracts and company policies.
Additional guidelines employers must follow are in the Hawaii Wage and Hour Act. In this act, employers must provide posted or written notice of vacation and sick leave policies to all employees. If an employer fails to do so, they could face significant penalties and fines.
Employers must take the time to review any statements about sick leave in employee handbooks and contracts. Additionally, they must notify their staff in writing if any changes are made to the existing policies.
Parental leave is the type of leave you take to welcome a newly adopted, foster care, or newborn baby. It can also be helpful if you need to care for an ill child.
Like standard sick leave, private employers in Hawaii can offer individual parental leave options to parents. However, there is also additional protection under the Family Medical Leave Act.
With FMLA, parents can access the same benefit for employees as sick leave. For example, you can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for and be with your children. This policy is an excellent way for eligible employees to deal with severe illnesses their children could be suffering from.
Although it is unpaid like standard sick leave, you can choose to use accrued paid sick leave instead. Also, it’s important to note employees will still have access to their original health insurance through their employer while on leave.
Like sick leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, parents must meet qualifications. These requirements include:
- Must have worked a minimum of 12 weeks for their employer
- Must use this leave to bond with or care for their children
It’s important to note that many private employers in Hawaii will establish parental leave options for employees. It would help if you first considered the options available to you through your employer. Depending on the business, sick leave to care for your children could be paid versus unpaid.
Employee Protections for Sick Leave
Hawaiian employees looking to use their sick leave benefits have guaranteed employment protection. Hawaii has strict regulations that employers must follow to ensure employees aren’t discriminated against for using sick leave. This also applies to employees using vacation time.
In Hawaii, employers with 100+ qualified employees cannot demote, fire, or withhold pay from employees using sick leave. This law also applies to businesses classified as labor organizations. Employers can also not reach collective bargaining agreements regarding releasing employees who meet sick leave requirements.
In addition to being demoted or fired, employers cannot harass or threaten employees who lawfully use their accrued sick leave. If this occurs, employees could have the right to sue their employers based on discrimination. Employees must have the same position (or equivalent) upon returning from leave.
Other Sick Leave Laws
Employers in Hawaii must follow the outlined guidelines when managing their employees’ sick leave benefit. Here are additional requirements and regulations for employers:
- Written Notice: As mentioned, Hawaiian employers must provide employees with written notice of established sick leave guidelines. Employers must place this information in an easily accessible area all employees can access.
- Eligibility Requirements: Major employers that offer individualized sick leave benefits have the right to establish specific eligibility requirements. Employees will need to meet the requirements before taking sick leave.
- Policy Changes: If employers change their sick leave program, they must also provide employees with written notices. These notices must be posted on an effective date before the change comes into play.
- 100+ Employee Threshold: It’s important to note the vast majority of sick leave clauses surrounding sick leave laws in Hawaii pertain to midsize companies. Your organization will need a minimum of 100 employees to be held to the above standards.
Providing Doctor’s Notes: Employers have the right to request a doctor’s note if an employee requires sick leave days. Alternatively, they could ask for written verification from a specialist or physician to confirm the employee’s medical status. Employers can request this information if employees use three or more consecutive sick days.