If you let employees donate extra PTO to their co-workers, watch out for these legal pitfalls.
A common scenario: An employee has a medical emergency and not enough paid sick leave to cover the time he or she will be unable to work. The employer might let employees with more accrued time than they need give up some for the sick employee to use instead.
Employers can benefit from these programs. They help build morale among employees by letting people help co-workers who are in need. Also, it’s a benefit that can be offered to employees in emergencies without spending any extra cash.
But there are dangers involved, too. Here are some of the things to keep in mind:
- Consistency: Like with any benefit, offering donated leave to some employees and not others can lead to discrimination suits, or at least complaints about unfairness.
- Employee regret: Employees who donate time might need or want it back in the future.
- Pressure: If the employee needing extra leave is a manager, his or her subordinates might feel pressured to donate time to avoid unfair treatment.
One way to limit those risks (aside from not allowing leave-sharing at all) is to have a policy and a formal process in place beforehand. For example, employers might list specific scenarios that call for leave-sharing and have prepared forms for the givers and receivers.
The policy might also state that donating is completely voluntary and can be done without supervisors knowing who did or didn’t participate.