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Can employees waive any of their Healthy Workplaces Act rights through union MOUs?

No. Any attempt to require an employee of any kind to sign a contract or other agreement that would limit or prevent an employee from asserting rights under the HWA is prohibited by the Act. An employer’s attempt to impose such a contract, agreement, or policy shall constitute an adverse action under the Act that is punishable by statutory damages of $250 for each occurrence.

Can employers ever require employees to use their paid sick leave when absent for a permissible purpose?

No. Employers cannot require employees to use HWA leave. PSL may only be used upon the employee’s oral or written request. If the employee does not request use of PSL for a condition that may qualify for use under the Act, that is the employee’s choice, even if it results in no pay for the employee. This includes time that the employee may be off work due to FMLA or under another law such as the Promoting Financial Independence for Victims of Domestic Abuse Act.    

Do we need to use specific terms to denote paid sick leave or PTO that includes paid sick leave on employee paystubs?

You should describe any leave accrued, used, carried over, or frontloaded in a manner that is sufficient to allow the Division to easily see whether you have complied with the Act or not. Failure to do so could be disadvantageous to employers if the Division investigates a complaint filed by an employee alleging violations of the Act. For this reason, it is recommended, but not required, that you clearly mark paid sick leave as such in records that you provide the Division.

Can employees use HWA leave and other types of leave at the same time?

HWA leave may be used if the employee is on unpaid leave, such as FMLA leave, provided the reason is permissible under the Act. On the other hand, the Act does not obligate an employer to allow an employee to take HWA leave concurrently with other paid leave, a double-dip situation. Remember, if an employer makes other paid leave available to employees beyond what is required by the Act (such as vacation or PTO), that employer may not require an employee to use that other paid leave before taking any available HWA leave.

Are churches that do not recognize domestic partnerships exempt from granting domestic-partnership-related sick leave?

No. The Act does not carve out any religious based exemptions from the Act. Churches, like all employers, are prohibited from discriminating against employees because of race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, physical or mental handicap or serious medical condition, or, if the employer has fifty or more employees, spousal affiliation.  

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