Employee leave donation programs have been around for many years. They are a specific program that allows employees to donate time off to their coworkers. Leave donations may be made into a large pool for qualified coworkers to apply for or even directly to another coworker.
While every workplace may not offer an employee leave donation program in Ohio, they are becoming increasingly popular, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Even organizations like the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ohio University have their own leave donation program for employees.
Below, we take a closer look at what exactly employee leave donation programs are and how they work.
Disclaimer: The following is not legal advice. It is general information meant to inform. Please consult with one of our employment lawyers for legal guidance.
What Does Employee Donated Leave Mean?
In 1988, Congress passed a law that allowed federal employees to share their leave. Known as a leave transfer program, this law allows federal employees to donate leave hours to other employees in cases where they are experiencing a medical emergency and have no more leave of their own to use.
Employee leaves donation programs in Ohio follow this same general model.
Employee donated leave essentially means that an employee can choose to donate their paid time off (PTO) to a leave donation program if they want. From there, that leave will generally be converted into paid sick leave. Other employees who are eligible can then apply for donated leave to use as sick leave for their own personal medical needs or to care for sick family members.
There are three main frameworks in which employee leave donation programs might take shape:
- Leave sharing: When employees donate their PTO directly to a coworker who is facing a particular emergency that is defined by the leave donation program.
- Leave bank: Where employees anonymously donate their PTO into a collective pot. Eligible employees can then apply for the donated PTO from the pot, following the rules of the donation program.
- Leave donation to charities: Employees may choose to donate the equivalent financial value of their unused PTO to a charity.
What is the Leave Law in Ohio?
Now that we have covered employee donated leave generally, we can take a look at what the laws governing these programs are in Ohio. State government-donated leave programs are specifically covered in Section 124.391 of the Ohio Revised Code.
This section lays out that a director of administrative services can establish a leave donation program in which employees can donate their “accrued but unused paid leave to another employee” who has critical need of the donated leave “because of circumstances such as a serious illness or the serious illness of a member of the employee’s immediate family.”
State directors who have established an employee leave donation program in Ohio as it is defined by state law, will need to adopt rules that keep the program in accordance with Chapter 119 of the Ohio Revised Code as well. Employee leaves donation programs in Ohio are further broken down in Rule 123: 1-46-05, which provides insight into employees who are eligible to receive donated paid leave and those who can donate paid leave.
Additional laws that may impact the operation of an employee leave donation program in Ohio include federal and county-level laws.
How Does Donated Leave Work?
An employee leave donation program in Ohio typically works like this:
- Once a program is instituted, employees will be able to choose if they wish to donate their accrued PTO to the program. Employees cannot be forced or coerced into donating paid leave.
- Employees who are eligible to request donated paid leave typically must put in a request. By state law, an eligible employee cannot receive more than 800 hours of donated leave in a given calendar year.
- The administrator or overseeing parties will handle requests for leave as they roll in.
The general operation of an employee leave donation program is fairly straightforward, but there are many underlying complex details. State and federal laws must be adhered to as well as the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) requirements for such programs.
More Questions on Donated Leave? Consult with an Employment Lawyer in Ohio
If you have further questions about the donated leave, please contact Coffman Legal, LLC. Our team of experienced employment lawyers is here to help answer your questions about your employment rights and offer you representation should you need it.
From prevailing wage issues to unpaid overtime, our employment lawyers have years of experience in employment law and we are here to help.
You can contact us over the phone at 614-949-1181 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.