There is no Hawaii law that requires private employers to grant their employees paid or unpaid sick leave, although many employers do grant it as an important benefit.
It is important to remember, however, that if sick leave is promised, an employer may create a legal obligation to grant it.
Some courts have ruled that policies published in employee handbooks may constitute implied contracts that are binding and enforceable. In addition, Hawaii's Wage and Hour Act requires employers to give employees written or posted notice of their promised sick leave and vacation policies (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 388-7).
Thus, 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.
It is unlawful for employers with 100 or more employees under a collective bargaining agreement to fire, demote, or withhold pay from an employee who uses accrued and available sick leave. The law also applies to labor organizations.
Under the law, employers may require the employee to provide written verification from a physician indicating that the employee was ill when the employee uses 3 or more consecutive days of sick leave. The law does not provide any specific recourse for employers when an employee fails to provide such verification (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 378-32).
Under Hawaii law, state employees are eligible for sick leave as negotiated under their collective bargaining agreements (HI Rev. Stat. Sec. 78-23).