There is no North Carolina law that requires private employers to grant their employees paid or unpaid sick leave, although many employers do grant it as an important employee benefit.
It is important to remember, however, that if sick leave is promised, an employer may create a legal obligation to grant it. Employers should regularly review statements made in handbooks or elsewhere to ensure that they accurately reflect current policies. If changes are necessary, the policy should be revised and employees notified of the changes.
The state Wage and Hour Act includes “sick leave” in its definition of wages. The Act requires employers to:
• Notify employees (either orally or in writing), at the time of hiring, of their promised wages and employment policies (which include sick leave and vacation policies).
• Make employment practices and policies regarding sick leave and other benefits available to their employees in writing or by means of a notice maintained in a place accessible to employees.
• Notify employees in writing, or through a posted notice maintained in a place accessible to employees, of any changes in policies and practices before those changes are implemented. Prior notice is not required when benefits are retroactively increased (NC Gen. Stat. Sec. 95-25.1et seq.).