Paid or unpaid leave: Debate could affect Wisconsin workers

Many workers with families often worry about becoming sick or their children becoming sick. Having to take unpaid leave can run the risk of putting a family in a financial struggle due to lost wages. The idea of employers being required to allow employees sick days with pay has been taken up in many states. However, some employers see paid sick days as too costly for their companies, and some locations which adopted the policy, including a Wisconsin city, have reversed the decision.

While there are standards in place for those covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the law ensures a covered employee will not be terminated due to extended leave, not that they are entitled to paid leave. The days permitted for absence under the Act are for unpaid leave, which employers see as being better for company expenses. A measure was passed in Milwaukee that allowed nine paid sick days, but that ruling was later reversed. Employers are not required to provide paid sick days, and lack of requirement could be detrimental to some employees.

Although many large companies do provide paid leave, it is often found that those people working low-wage jobs do not have that benefit. When a worker or worker’s child has a prolonged illness, unpaid leave with job security may not be enough. Being able to take time off when covered by the FMLA is beneficial, but going several days or weeks without an income could create a serious financial situation.

Though paid sick leave is still under debate, employers do have the obligation to provide unpaid leave to those covered under the FMLA. Failure to comply with this Act would have serious legal consequences. Employees who feel that their rights have been violated by their employer may wish to look into Wisconsin employment laws for information.

Source:, “Paid Sick Leave: Solving a Health Issue or Another Burden on Employers?” Rita Pyrillis, June 4, 2013


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