Unless your otolaryngology practice is in the state of Connecticut, or in a place like San Franscisco or the District of Columbia, chances are you are not legally bound to provide paid time off for your employees. If you want to attract the highest-quality employee, however, offering some paid vacation and/or sick days is likely essential.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2012
But the question of how much time off to provide, as well as how to ensure staff does not abuse the policy, can leave practice managers confused. Here, we help you navigate the waters of paid time off.
How Much Time to Offer
According to Jeffrey W. Dudley, CEO of the Sacramento Ear, Nose and Throat Surgical and Medical Group, Inc., and president-elect of the Association of Otolaryngology Administrators, the amount of time off a practice offers for sick and/or vacation days varies. “For the most part, vacation accruals start after six months of service at the rate of two weeks per year [10 working days],” he said. This vacation time typically increases by five days every five years and is usually capped at five weeks per year. For paid sick time off, Dudley said an accrual rate of five days per year is a good starting point.
Although additional paid days off, such as personal days or paid birthdays, can be nice perks for employees, “sometimes it is just easier to tell an employee to take a Friday off with pay—they appreciate it and don’t have to dip into any of their accruals,” he added.
Since labor laws vary from state to state, it can be very beneficial to hire an attorney proficient in employment law to write your employee handbook, said Nina Ries, principal at Ries Law Group in Santa Monica, Calif. “Most critically, you will want to make sure you have complied with the laws of your state,” she said. “On a related note, you will want to make sure you have taken the strictest position available in your state. Borrowed employee handbooks or ones that you find on the Internet may not be relevant to your state, may include provisions that are broader than your state requires and may not make sense for your business type or size.” For a quick overview of leave benefits, including the Family Medical Leave Act, visit dol.gov and click on “Leave Benefits.”
Paid time off encourages people who are actually sick to stay home and recover, instead of coming to work and infecting their coworkers. But what if you suspect an employee is taking advantage of paid sick days? “This is pretty easy to spot,” Dudley said, explaining that patterns are usually easily uncovered, such as repeated Friday or Monday sick calls.