Requesting Sick Leave—Can an Employer Make You Use Vacation Days for Sick Days?

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DoNotPay Explains—Can an Employer Make You Use Vacation Days for Sick Days?

Have you been saving paid time off to go on vacation but suddenly got sick? If so, you might be worried—can an employer make you use vacation days for sick days?

This easy-to-follow manual will answer your question and show you a simple and effective way to call in sick.

If you , we can help you initiate a sick leave request with your employer stress-free!

Using Vacation Days for Sick Days—Essential Information

Most companies have a single paid time off policy that covers both sick days and vacation days. The specifics differ from state to state, as there is no federal law mandating employers to provide either sick leave or vacation time to their staff.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulates how much time off an employer has to provide to their employees, but it has been adopted only by the following states:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Oregon
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.

The amount of time off you’ll get in case of your or a family member’s illness depends on three factors:

  1. Your company’s policy on taking sick days
  2. State-specific laws regarding mandatory sick leave

Do You Have To Use Vacation Days for Sick Leave?

Since there usually isn’t a strict policy separating sick leave from vacation time, an employer can force you to use the time off that you were saving for a vacation. If you have no time off left, some bosses might even force you to work while sick!

In most states, valid reasons for requesting sick leave include:

  • Grievous injury
  • Diagnosis of a serious illness
  • Care for an injured, ill, or infirm family member
  • Recent childbirth

What Happens if You Don’t Use Your Vacation Days?

Some companies have a use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy—they expect you to spend the accumulated time off before the next year. It is a convenient policy that many states are conflicted about, and they usually handle this issue in two ways:

  1. Forbidding the policy on a state level
  2. Allowing employers to use it only if their company policy states that any accrued vacation time cannot be carried over

Can an Employer Fire You if You Don’t Use Vacation Days for Sick Days?

Employers firing employees for not showing up to work due to their illness is not uncommon. If you have no more sick or vacation days, an employer can terminate your contract for not attending work under these conditions:

  • Your state’s sick leave laws don’t regulate mandatory time off
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) hasn’t been adopted by your state
  • The illness affecting you isn’t COVID-19—in which case you may be able to take advantage of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

If the termination of your work contract is unwarranted, you can send demand letters to your boss for damages!

Get Time Off the Easier Way With DoNotPay!

Bosses can be stiff when giving sick leave to their employees. This is where DoNotPay steps in to help—our Request Sick Leave product will help you compose a professional sick leave request letter!

We will specify the reason for taking sick leave and state the approximate time you’ll be absent from work. We’ll also make sure to state relevant laws that protect your rights for taking time off. You can print out the letter, or you can let us email it to your employer on your behalf!

To call in sick without a hassle, all you need to do is:

  1. Select the Request Sick Leave tool
  2. Name your company and add relevant details about your request for sick leave

If you need additional information about state-specific sick leave laws, consult the following articles:

CaliforniaArizonaPennsylvaniaNorth Carolina
MichiganFloridaVirginiaNew York
WashingtonColoradoVermontRhode Island
New JerseyDistrict of ColumbiaOhioGeorgia

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