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What are my sickness rights at work?

sickness rights

When it comes to sickness, you have certain rights that are designed to protect you. One example is HIPAA. HIPAA is the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act and was put in place in 1996 with the intention of protecting individuals' health information when moving from one place of work to another. The Department of Health and human services in the US also passed the privacy rule during the year 2003 which defines PHI (Protected Health Information) as information that is held by the insured entity. This contains the status of health of the individual, the provision of the healthcare they are receiving and any payment that can be linked to the individual.

During 2005, the rule of security to do with HIPAA got updated to be focused on electronically stored PHI (ePHI). So, although this new Security Rule is different and separate from the Privacy Rule, it was a needed update, as nowadays there is a massive increase in digital platform usage which means that there are a lot more information systems out there sharing this kind of healthcare information. HIPAA violations can lead to some big fines for companies failing to comply. Follow this link for more about HIPAA violations

So, although currently in the US there aren't any national requirements to offer paid sick leave, there is an act in place called the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), which requires that businesses with 50 employees or more must be allowed unpaid time off for medical leave and this includes if they must care for a sick family member. So, although this act does allow for this, there is no requirement enforced by the government to make this paid time off. Saying that, according to a study, 74% of workers in full-time contracts with their employers tend to have an arrangement with them allowing paid time off in the unfortunate circumstance that they get sick, even though they have no legal obligation to make these arrangements. ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that allows employees that are eligible to claim leave from injury or illness-related reasons.

Even though there is no overall federal law that mandates sick leave in the US, some cities and states require their businesses to offer employees paid sick leave. However, they vary from state to state. California, Arizona, Maryland, Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont all require a business to provide their employees a short-time sick leave. An example of the differing requirements depending on site would be to take Massachusetts and New York. Employees in Massachusetts are entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours that they work and mandate a minimum of 5 days of sick leave, whereas New York employers are required to offer 40 hours of paid sick leave to their employees per annum. The actual terms of payment will vary from employer to employer, however, they will be in accordance with those states or city's regulations and rules. 

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