Nine out of 10 traditional paid leave plans in the U.S. include sick leave in 2021, found a survey by XpertHR, a subsidiary of LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group.

The survey, which polled more than 600 U.S. organizations earlier this spring, found about half (51 per cent) of these employers said they provide traditional leave plans for employees, while 41 per cent offer paid-time-off plans. A handful — fewer than one per cent — noted an “other” form of paid leave plan (i.e., sick leave only) and three per cent said their organization doesn’t provide any type of paid leave.

Of the 329 respondents that offer traditional leave plans, a vast majority (91 per cent) indicated they offered paid sick leave, along with paid vacation (98 per cent), paid bereavement leave (83 per cent) and paid leave for jury duty (75 per cent).

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Of the respondents surveyed with paid-time-off plans, a majority (64 per cent) said they combine all paid leave into a single bank, which employees can use for any type of leave — whether for being sick, taking vacation, bereavement, etc. (not including company-wide paid holidays) — while 30 per cent said they provide some form of paid leave in addition to the time-off bank.

Much like paid vacation leave, the survey found paid sick leave is almost a near-universal component of traditional leave plans. However, unlike with paid vacation days, the vast majority (84 per cent) of the 301 organizations surveyed that do offer a traditional leave plan that includes paid sick leave said their employees aren’t able to earn more paid sick leave per year the longer they’re with the company. Only 15 per cent of these respondents said they allow their employees to accumulate more paid sick days based on years of employment with the company and one per cent were unsure about their policy. And of the companies that do allow employees to earn one paid sick leave per year, regardless of length of service, the median number of paid sick days earned per year is seven.

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About two-thirds of organizations that offer paid sick leave through a traditional paid leave plan allow employees to carry over at least some unused sick leave into the next calendar year. In fact, more than one-third (36 per cent) allow their employees to carry over the full amount of any unused sick leave and 30 per cent allow the carry over of some unused sick leave. A third of these companies don’t allow carry over at all and one per cent were unclear on the policy.

As well, about one in five (21 per cent) of the respondents with traditional leave plans said they allow employees to donate paid sick leave to co-workers, compared with 76 per cent that don’t and three per cent that were unsure. And a minority of respondents said they provide a full payout (seven per cent) or a partial payout (eight per cent) of any unused paid sick leave in the event of a voluntary resignation, compared with 85 per cent that provide no payout. Less than one per cent were unsure.

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Of the employers surveyed that had traditional leave plans in place, seven per cent said they provide a full payout of the unused sick leave in the case of layoffs and retirement income funds, while five per cent said they provide a partial payout. Some 87 per cent of these organizations don’t provide a payout in these cases and one per cent weren’t sure.

In the event of a termination, five per cent of respondents said they provide a full payout of sick leave and six per cent provide a partial payout, while a majority (87 per cent) don’t. Two per cent of these respondents were unsure.