Ohio private-sector businesses do not have a legal obligation to offer paid sick leave to employees; only those working in the public sector have a statutory right to sick leave. Ohio state law follows the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requiring unpaid leave for employees who meet its criteria.
Private employers can provide sick leave if they so choose, but they must comply with their company’s established policy or the worker’s employment contract.
Who Gets Paid Sick Time in Ohio?
Under Ohio law Chapter 123:1-32, sick leave covers only public sector employees, not private sector workers. These include university and college employees and other public workers. Those employees who have sick leave benefits are entitled to 4.6 hours of leave for every 80 hours worked.
The state sick leave law does not limit how much paid sick leave a worker can accrue, but it does limit how much workers will be paid while on sick leave:
- If a worker uses 40 hours of sick leave within 12 months, they get compensated 100 percent of their base rate of pay.
- If a worker uses 40 to 80 hours of sick leave within 12 months, they get compensated 70 percent of their base rate of pay.
- If a worker uses over 80 hours of sick leave, they get compensated 100 percent of their base rate of pay.
Employees Eligible for FMLA Leave of Absence
Private-sector employees who need to take a leave of absence must adhere to federal FMLA requirements. To be qualified, employees must:
- Have worked for the company for at least one year.
- Have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for a business in the past year.
- Have worked at a location where the business employs 50 or more workers within 75 miles.
Workers can renew FMLA leave every 12 months if they remain eligible. Covered reasons for leave include:
- Birth and care of worker’s newborn.
- Placement of a child for adoption or foster care with the worker.
- Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
- Taking medical leave due to a serious health condition.
How Much FMLA Leave Can a Worker Get?
A worker who is eligible for FMLA leave can take up to 12 weeks when assisting a family member who has suffered a severe injury or illness.
Workers who use federal leave can continue receiving and contributing to their health insurance policies at the rates they had during their employment. They may be permitted or required to use their accrued paid time off while on federal leave.
Working spouses, parents or guardians of a member of the military are entitled to up to 26 weeks off. This covers personnel in active service for more than a month and who are hospitalized or injured while on active duty. Salaried workers get 10 days of unpaid sick leave or 80 hours (whichever is more) with benefit continuation.
Eligibility for Parental Leave in Ohio Through FMLA
Parents with newborns, foster children or sick children can get leave through the FMLA if their employer does not offer it. However, they must first comply with the agency's sick leave requirements.
Employees seeking FMLA parental leave must meet certain criteria:
- Be permanent full-time or part-time workers who work at least 30 hours per week. These employees are eligible for up to six weeks leave for adoption or childbirth.
- Worker must live with the child and be their biological or legal guardian.
FMLA leave cannot exceed six continuous weeks. For full-time employees, this includes paid leave for four work weeks, while part-time employees get a prorated amount. Workers can use accumulated sick leave credit, compensatory time or vacation balances during leave.
Requesting Leave Under the FMLA
Employees must adhere to their company’s usual and customary requirements for leave requests and provide enough information to their employer so that they reasonably can determine if the FMLA applies to the worker. The employee must request leave at least 30 days in advance when they can foresee needing it.
When leave is unforeseeable or less than 30 days in advance, workers must give notice soon as they can under the circumstances. When an employee seeks to take leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason, they need not assert their rights under the FMLA or even mention the agency to their employer.
Ohio and Pregnancy Discrimination
Ohio law bans discrimination against pregnancy and childbirth in companies with a minimum of four employees, but the state does not require a company to provide leave for either condition.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal for businesses with a minimum of 15 employees to treat individuals unfairly when they are pregnant, trying to conceive, or when have lost a pregnancy.
Employers cannot can’t fire workers or cut their hours while these circumstances exist – the worker has a right to work as long as they can fulfill their duties.
Are Employees Protected When Taking Sick Days?
Ohio employees get to keep their jobs away on sick leave; employers bound by FMLA regulations must follow the provisions of that federal law. When leave ends for the worker, the company must reinstate them to the same or similar position they had before leaving.
They must have the same benefits, make about the same amount of money, and have the same privileges as before going on leave.
While on leave, workers are entitled to the benefits of their continued health insurance coverage. While leave may be unpaid, the covered worker can use accrued leave benefits, including a new sick leave period.
- DOL: Fact Sheet #28M: The Military Family Leave Provisions Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- EEOC.gov: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
- Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules: Chapter 123:1-32 | Sick and Personal Leave
- DOL: Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
- Do Not Pay: Ohio Sick Leave Law—Who Is Covered?
- DOL: Fact Sheet #28: The Family and Medical Leave Act
- Employee Law Handbook: Ohio Sick Leave Law
- NOLO/Disability Secrets: Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in Ohio
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.