Can An Employer Make You Use Vacation Days For Sick Days?

Many workplaces place benefits for their workers, some of which include paid days off, this can be for parental leave, a day off for vacation ( personal or family time), and sick leave. Are you sick but wondering if you can take a sick day that will not mark a check on your yearly vacation day off? Let us know about “Can An Employer Make You Use Vacation Days For Sick Days?”

Can An Employer Make You Use Vacation Days For Sick Days?

Legally, there is no strict law per se that demands employers to give their employees sick days off separate from vacation days. It is all dependent on the company, as different companies have their policies which may or may not include a single paid day off.

Paid Leaves

Paid leaves are employees’ benefits which include sick days and vacation days, however, some employers may merge the two, meaning that a sick day off would also be taken as that employee’s vacation day. An employer can do this because no law states he cannot, there are, however, laws that are put that no matter what, an employee is entitled to paid leaves. It is required that employees who go on leave should be reimbursed by 100% of their regular pay, or at least a high percentage. 

 With the establishment of the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees are also given the choice between paid leaves and 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Family And Medical Leave Act

Known as FMLA, it was signed in the year 1993, this is a policy that aids to establish a minimum amount of leave an employer has to enforce for their employees in the organization.

The FMLA mandates eligible employees be entitled to at least 12 weeks of unpaid job-secure leave per year including their health care benefits.

The FMLA was established for employees to enhance flexibility in workplaces, it aids to balance employees’ work and personal life by adding a bit to both employer’s policy and the employees’ benefits. The FMLA policies apply to both private and public entities as well as schools with a minimum of 50 employees, eligible employees are to be given 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the following reasons.

Parental leave (maternity and paternity leave), or in the cases of child placement for adoption or foster care, the parents of a newborn are given this period off work to be with the child, from the first year of its birth. In the case of adoption or foster care, the leave can be observed before the placement or adoption happens.

Family leave ( to care for an ill family member, when a child, parent, or spouse is seriously ill 

Medical leave for employees when they get ill, employees may not be able to work especially when they have serious medical conditions.

Eligible employees for the FMLA should have worked at least a year, having worked a significant amount of hours within that same year. The FMLA was established due to too strict employers’ policies, employees at times are unable to attend to urgent personal or family matters, and were at risk of losing their jobs, they can get fired for not using their paid time off course, and this may happen in a place that has not adopted the FMLA policy.

Conditions must be met when applying for leave, a 30-day notice should be sent before the leave, this is when the employee is aware of the situation, but in the case where the reason for leave is not known beforehand, a minimum of 2-day notice is necessary. 

When applying for FMLA, an FMLA medical form is given, this form is to be taken to the doctor, this step is to verify medical claims behind the leave, and this form states that it is indeed necessary for the employee to take time off work for the particular medical condition. The form is to be submitted within 15 days and when approved, should be submitted within two days after receiving it, to the employer.

How long Can You Be On Sick Leave Before Dismissal?

Some employers tend to dismiss employees who have been on sick leave for long periods, the particular time it takes before one can be dismissed is not estimable, it depends on the employer and working conditions, reasons may be that the employees’ absence was affecting the workplace so an employee may lose their position, but FMLA makes sure that employees returning from leave retain their job, same position or an equally good position with similar conditions as the previous.

What Does The Use-It-Or-Lose-It Policy Mean?

Usually, employees are given paid time off yearly, so in a situation where an employee does not observe their paid time off in a year, it is expected that it would be carried over, but some employers that adopt this policy do not pay for the unused time off at the end of the year. Most states against this policy pay for the time unused by the employee or Carry it over. So the employer must clearly state the business policies about leaves and benefits, for them to be well aware of what should be expected.


Now we have learnt “Can An Employer Make You Use Vacation Days For Sick Days?”, Yes, an employer can make you take a vacation day as a sick day off, it is all dependent on the companies policy, but such an employer cannot deny their employees paid time off yearly, and although FMLA may not be adopted by all the states in the US, for the states that adopt the FMLA policy, eligible employees are guaranteed leave from work to attend to person and family matters whilst retaining their job at work as well as health care benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can an employer request the use of paid leave while an employee is on FMLA leave?

Yes, some employers may request an employee to use their paid leave for FMLA leave.

  • Can you use annual leave instead of sick leave?

Annual leave is a paid leave given to employees and it can be used as sick leave.

Can An Employer Make You Use Vacation Days For Sick Days?

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