Employers Decide Whether to Provide Employee Benefits

Article excerpt

Byline: ON THE JOB Bureau of Labor & Industries

Question: I have been working at my current job for more than a month. I called in sick yesterday and my supervisor told me that I did not have any sick leave available yet. He offered to authorize the day off as unpaid leave, which I agreed to since I was feeling lousy and did not want to go in to work.

Is it illegal for my employer not to give me paid sick leave?

Answer: The accrual and use of sick leave - as well as vacation days, holidays, and other fringe benefits - is entirely a matter of employer policy. Oregon law does not require employers to provide employees with paid time off or with other employee benefits such as health insurance coverage.

If employers do offer sick leave, vacation days, holiday time off, holiday pay or other benefits, the employer is free to establish the rules regarding the employee's use of the benefits.

Employers routinely establish caps on vacation accrual, practice use-it-or-lose-it policies, require employees to utilize paid leave under certain circumstances and require employees to follow established procedures to obtain authorization for personal, sick or vacation leave (for example, by requiring employees to fill out a leave request form or calling in to report absences by a specific time during the work day).

Employers also may offer different benefits to different employees, as long as they do not discriminate between employees based on race, color, national origin, sex or other protected class. For example, an employer may offer supervisory employees more vacation time, or pay a higher employer contribution toward management employees' health insurance premiums.

Employers are also generally free to negotiate benefits with each individual employee - that is, unless a collective bargaining agreement is in effect between the parties.

Also, employers may change the nature and terms of employee benefits without obtaining the employee's agreement to the changes. …