Make up time. Have you heard of it? Well, it’s a California thing, and even if you haven’t heard the term – I bet you know what it is in practice.
Let’s say Mary has to go to the doctor on Thursday, so she’s going to leave 2 hours early that day. But she doesn’t want to lose the paid hours, and she doesn’t want to use vacation or sick time (oh, by the way, that’s actually what they are there for in the first place – but maybe she doesn’t want to use that time, and you, as her employer, are OK with that).
So instead she wants to work 2 extra hours on Tuesday so she can be paid for the time she’s missing on Thursday.
Now, in practice that’s make up time. But from a regulatory viewpoint, well, it’s overtime. Because Mary will be working 10 hours on Tuesday, so she’ll get 2 hours of overtime for that day.
And yes, I know that doesn’t sound fair to the company – well, in fact, in this case there is a workaround. You actually are allowed to have a formal Make Up Time policy. The up side is, if you have one in place, those extra 2 hours on Tuesday can be paid at straight time. The down side is, for a legally compliant Make Up Time policy, you have to follow some very specific guidelines.
Here’s what you need to know.
First, Mary can’t make up time outside the same workweek. So that means, if she is taking 2 hours off next Monday, any extra hours she works to make up that time, has to happen in the same workweek as next Monday. It’s fine if it’s before her appointment, or after – but it has to be the same workweek. She can’t work 2 extra hours this week to make up for 2 hours next week.
Next, under no circumstances can Mary work more than 11 hours in a day. Once she gets to 11 hours, she’s going to incur overtime. And the same is true for working more than 40 hours in a week – all that time would be paid as overtime as well.
“…now, when I say that as an only child, I have chosen my family – California says, we support that!“
Now, you should require that the request and approval be in writing (believe me, it’s going to be a nightmare if you try to manage something like this with only verbal notice). And speaking of notice, you should also put some guardrails around how much notice you need – you don’t want people telling you after the fact. By the way – that’s a perfect example of when a form really helps.
And finally, all this has to be a formalized policy – that means it’s written down, in your handbook, and it’s available to all employees. Oh, and don’t forget – it’s employee’s choice. You can’t make them use – well, make up time. But of course, if they don’t then they either have to use time from their paid time off bucket (meaning sick or vacation time), or the time would be unpaid.
Now, I’m not a fan of unpaid time – simply because it’s so easy to go down that slippery slope. You tell someone they can’t take vacation time, because they have used it all, and they come back and say – OK well I’ll take unpaid time. Then there you are -short staffed.
So, be very careful giving unpaid time off. Because remember, if you do it for one, you have to make it available for all.
And while we’re talking about the paid time off buckets – remember that in California, sick time can be used for a variety of reasons. It’s not just that the employee isn’t feeling well – the sick time regulation says employees can use sick time to take care of themselves when they’re sick (and yes, that would include going to see the doctor), they can use it to take care of family members – and that has become a really broad definition. It includes foster and step children, foster and step parents, grand parents and children, siblings and has recently be extended to anyone related by affinity whose close association is equivalent to a family relationship.
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So that means – now, when I say that as an only child, I have chosen my family – California says, we support that!
My point is, sick time has really broad usage. And no, you can’t go asking for a doctor’s note as long as the person is taking sick time that they’ve earned. And a quick word about notice – the regulations say employees have to provide advance notice if they can, but if they can’t then they have to provide notice as soon as they are able. So, that effectively puts an end to the ‘you have to give a minimum of 2 hrs notice’ rules most sick leave policies had in the past.
If you want more information on the California state sick leave law, I’ll put a link in the show notes.
But be careful – some cities have their own sick leave rules too – for instance, Los Angeles has their own sick leave – I’ll put that link in the show notes as well.
So remember, there are various options – you just need to be sure you know what they are, and what they might mean for your company.