According to state laws, private-sector employers in Ohio have no legal obligation to offer paid sick leave. Employees who work in the public sector are the only Ohio workers with a statutory right to paid sick leave. A federal law requires unpaid leave for all employees who suffer illnesses or other health conditions that qualify as serious.
Ohio's labor code contains no provisions that mention sick days, nor paid leave of any kind, for private employees. State laws, likewise, do not mention a requirement to offer unpaid leave. Policies of offering leave, whether paid or unpaid, are up to the employer, but employers that establish a policy of offering leave must adhere to the policy and inform employees in advance of any changes. Employers do not have to pay employees for unused sick leave upon termination of employment.
The U.S. Department of Labor states that paid sick leave is a matter of agreement between employers and employees. However, a federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, requires all employers to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to certain employees, including those suffering from a serious health condition. To qualify for FMLA leave, the condition must require inpatient care at a medical facility or continuing treatment by a health-care provider.
All public employees in Ohio, including state college and university employees, earn 4.6 hours of paid sick leave for every 80 hours of service. They may use the leave to cover absences due to illness, injury or pregnancy, as well as health issues affecting an immediate family member. Employees may accumulate sick leave without limit. Those who move from one public-sector occupation to another may retain their sick leave as long as their time between jobs is no more than 10 years.
In 2008, a ballot initiative would have allowed Ohio voters to decide whether to make paid sick leave mandatory for most employees. The proposal would have required companies with at least 25 workers to provide seven days of paid sick leave annually for employees working at least 30 hours a week. A coalition of labor organizations initially pushed the measure but decided two months before the November election to not proceed. Before it faltered, the effort was the first in the nation to give voters a say in authorizing paid sick leave.