A medical leave of absence is also known as the sick leave. It refers to the period when employees get immediate permission of taking leave due to a medical condition, illness, injury, or disability.
This kind of leave ensures focusing the serious health condition and recovery without facing adverse consequences in their employment status.
Employers often face challenges due to numerous days off taken by the employees as medical leave. With the help of the company medical leave act and related policies, organizations can minimize the employee’s leave of absence in their business.
For some kind of important human resource policy, an organization can maintain the sick leave application and how to minimize the impact of the employee’s leave on the company business.
What is a Medical Leave of Absence?
A medical leave of absence is under the leave category for the employees of any organization. When an employee feels sick or ill due to physical health or mental health, he can take a paid sick leave for a day or numerous days.
Additionally, employees also take paid parental leave for the family member taking care of parents or spouse, or children, in case they become ill. But before that, employees and employers need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding the medical leave act and family medical leave act.
Employers, on the other hand, must ensure that they adhere to applicable employment laws and provide a supportive and accommodating environment for employees who require medical leave.
1. Medical Leave Act in India 2023
Since medical leaves are a benefit provided to the staff, some may try to exploit it. To avoid such exploitation, there should be adequate policies in place. Let’s explore the medical leave of absence act
Mainly the sick day policies in any organization are set under the State’s Shops and Establishment Act. Along with federal law and policy, there are company policies that take care of job-protected leave.
➔ Medical Leave Act by the Indian Shop and Establishment Act
- Employees can take an of 0.5 to seven days (paid) of sick leaves without providing any certificate.
- If any employee takes leave of more than seven days for any severe medical conditions, he has to provide a medical certificate.
- Sick leaves can not appear with earned leaves
- Employees get sick leave in any emergency,
- Sick days can not be loaded or encashments for the following calendar year
- As per section 15, rule number 13 in the Apprentices Act, 1961 the interns or apprentices can take medical leave of 15 days in a year.
Besides the Indian Shop and Establishment Act, there are two more acts like Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Act and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD Act). Often companies follow sick leave along with the company’s own policies.
➔ Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Act
As per the Employees’ State Insurance Act, of 1948 in India, Insurance companies that tie up with the organization have to provide health insurance coverage in the case of sickness, maternity, injury, or disability.
Under the ESI Act, eligible employees contribute a portion of their salary to the ESI scheme, and they, as well as their dependents, become entitled to certain medical benefits, including sick leave benefits.
➔ Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD Act)
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, of 2016 ensures equal opportunities, non-discrimination, and reasonable accommodations covered employer and employee simultaneously in the workplace.
Along with employees, employers may be required to make reasonable accommodations, including providing sick leave, for employees with disabilities covered under this act.
➔ Company Policies
Many companies in India have their own sick leave policies and may provide a specific number of sick leave days to their employees.
Some companies may also have policies in place to accommodate employees with disabilities.
2. Who is an eligible employee for a Medical Leave of Absence?
Any employees of a particular organization are allowed for taking a sick leave of absence for their own bad health condition or family member’s health issues. As per the sick leave act employees under the probation period and permanent employees as well are eligible for paid leave. Employees who are in the notice period can take unpaid leave.
Besides, In the employee handbook, there are few circumstances where the employee can take a medical leave of absence under the following circumstances
- Birth of a baby
- Sickness of an immediate family member
- Serious health conditions
- Accidental circumstances
➔ Does any disability leave of absence get an advantage through the sick leave act?
Regarding disability rules within sick leave in India, there is no comprehensive federal law that specifically addresses sick leave or disability accommodations for all employees. Whether the employee is continuing with the short-term or long-term disability he can get equal sick leave of absence from the organization.
3. Is medical leave of absence paid or unpaid?
Whether the medical leave of absence is paid or non-paid solely depends on the company itself. Let’s categorize the section into three scenarios.
One is Paid medical leave. second is non-paid medical leave and the third is short-term disability leave, though the short-term leave is not countable for every company and the last scenario is legal requirements.
All the categories are based on several factors like the employer’s policies, applicable laws, and the specific circumstances surrounding the leave.
Let’s explore those scenarios,
➔ Paid Medical Leave
Some organizations offer paid medical leave as part of their employee benefits package. Where employees get a minimum count of sick leave every month. If the leave is not taken by the employee then it can be carried forward till the end of the year.
The duration of paid medical leave may vary depending on the company’s policies and the nature of the medical condition.
➔ Unpaid Medical Leave
In some cases, medical leave may be unpaid. Organizations do not provide the paid amount to the employee for their days off. In this case, employees do not receive their regular salary during their absence.
Commonly company provides a certain paid leave as medical leave of absence but after that, in case of any extended period, employees have to take unpaid medical leave.
➔ Short-Term Disability
Not in India but in some countries, employees get paid for their accidental or short-term disabilities. Even if they get short-term disability insurance as well.
Short-term disability benefits typically provide a percentage of the employee’s salary for a limited period, depending on the nature and severity of the condition. This acts as job protection for the employees during medical leave.
➔ Legal Requirements
In certain jurisdictions, there may be laws or regulations for employees and employers that count the amount of medical leave of absence to eligible persons. These laws can vary widely from one country to another and even between different states or regions within a country.
4. Does a Company allow the Medical Leave of Absence for Mental Health Conditions?
In recent years, companies are focusing on the importance of mental health and its impact on employee well-being and productivity.
As a result, They are providing medical leave whenever the employee is mentally unfit. Many companies are becoming more receptive to providing medical leave or time off for employees who need to address mental health concerns.
However, not all companies have established policies specifically addressing mental health-related leaves, and the level of support and understanding may differ significantly.
Here are some common approaches that companies may take regarding medical leave for mental health conditions:
➔ Explicit Policies
Many companies have explicit policies that address mental health as a valid reason for medical leave. They accept such leaves which are taken for mental illness. Even some companies are providing training sessions for employee mental well-being at the workplace.
➔ Flexible Leave Option
Some companies believe in flexible work environments. In this scenario, they provide paid time off, unpaid leave, or a combination of leave of absence for physical or mental illness. They just need a good balance between employers and employees
➔ Discretionary Leave
Maintaining the work-life balance is one of the main mottos for entire well-being and productivity. In those cases, companies may consider granting leave on a case-by-case basis, even if they do not have specific policies for mental health conditions. This can depend on the company’s culture and the willingness of management to accommodate employees’ needs.