The PSL-4Step Framework of Analysis

The goal of the PSL-4Step is to be a framework for analyzing any PSL law in a consistent, methodical and efficient manner and to provide a basis for comparing that PSL law to other PSL laws, at least generally. It can also provide a framework for drafting a PSL policy or incorporating such a policy into a leave management program.  Here are the four steps:

Step 1: Does the PSL law apply?

Step 2: What is the PSL benefit?

Step 3: How does the PSL law deal with the “common clauses”?

Step 4: Are there any unique provisions in this PSL law?

Let’s take them one at a time.

Step 1 addresses the threshold issue of whether the PSL law applies to the employer and employee. Making this determination typically involves reviewing:

  • The definition of employer and employee and exemptions from those definitions;
  • Any provision relating to employees covered by a labor contract, if applicable.

If the PSL law does not apply, the inquiry ends. If it does apply, we move to Step 2.

Step 2 addresses the PSL benefit the employer must provide. Making this determination typically involves answering the following questions:

  • What is the PSL accrual rate for employees (both exempt and non-exempt)?
  • When does the accrual begin?
  • When can the employee first use accrued PSL?
  • What happens to accrued but unused PSL, e.g. carryover and rehire rules?
  • At what rate is PSL paid?
  • Are there alternatives to the accrual method, e.g. frontloading?
  • For what purposes can PSL be used?
  • What is the minimum PSL increment an employee can use?

Step 3 addresses “common clauses” that relate to administration of the PSL program. The “clauses” listed below are in all or nearly all of the PSL laws although the substance of the clauses varies, sometimes widely. These clauses include:

  • Definition of family member
  • Employer and employee notice requirements;
  • An employer’s ability to require documentation to support the use of PSL;
  • An employer’s PSL obligations to a terminated or rehired employee;
  • The interaction between the PSL law and the employer’s existing leave policies;
  • The relationship of the PSL law to other leave laws and agreements;
  • Employer conduct prohibited against employees who use PSL;
  • An enforcement mechanism.

Step 4 is the “catch-all” for any provision in a PSL law that is either unique or simply not common enough to qualify as a common clause. For example, only a few PSL laws specifically prohibit abuse of sick leave and define “abuse.”

Of course, the PSL-4Step is not a substitute for reading the law and the supporting resources or seeking legal advice. I anticipate that the PSL-4Step framework will evolve. Comments are quite welcome.