There is no Nebraska law that requires private sector employers to provide employees sick leave, paid or unpaid, although many employers do grant it as a popular employee benefit. However, it is important to note that if an employer promises to provide sick leave, the employer may have a legal obligation to grant it. Some courts have ruled that policies published in employee handbooks constitute implied contracts that are binding and enforceable. Thus, employers should regularly review policy statements made in handbooks or other written materials to ensure that they accurately reflect current policies. If not, they should be changed and employees should be notified of the changes.
State law does not require employers to pay accrued sick leave at termination.
The Nebraska Supreme Court has also ruled that Nebraska’s Wage Payment and Collection Act requires an employer to pay an employee for his or her earned but unused paid time off (PTO) hours, upon separation of employment. This is true even if there is a provision in the employee manual that the employer will not pay for accrued PTO if the employee is terminated. No such rule applies to sick leave-only policies (Fisher v. PayFlex Systems, USA, Inc., and Norton v. PayFlex Systems, USA, Inc., 285 Neb. 808 (May 3, 2013)) (consolidated cases). In the PayFlex cases, the employer's policy allowed employees the absolute right to take accumulated time off for any reason, subject only to the employer’s approval of the timing.