What student workers need to know about sick leave

Skand S., News Contributor

In case you wake up sick on a work day, you might wonder if you have to forgo a day’s pay or are eligible to take a paid day off.

The answer is that it varies with your employment status and how long you have been working.

A student employee is allowed up to 40 hours of sick leave in a fiscal year (July 1 through July 30 of next year). Student employees will receive one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

This rule is based on the Oregon Sick Time law that went into effect in 2016. Prior to this, student employees and unclassified part-time employees at less than 50% full time employment, in other words–students working less than 20 hours did not receive sick leave benefits.

According to Bonny Ray, director of benefits and human resource services at Oregon State University, paid sick leave is available to use by a student employee beginning on the 91st calendar day of their employment and employees may use sick leave as the hours of sick leave accumulate.

While some student employees have these rights, unfortunately, students on Federal Work Study cannot take paid sick leave. They are also not eligible for the recent Paid Leave Oregon program.

Post the 2016 law, student workers can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave from fiscal year to fiscal year. A student who is re-employed by OSU within 180 days of separation will have previously accumulated unused sick leave restored.

Abhishek Patel, OSU graduate student and employee at Arnold Dining Center, said that during the on-boarding period, he was introduced to the sick-leave policy.

Although he hasn’t had a situation that required him to take sick leave, he feels it is important to let student workers know their rights.

Jori Huhn, an office assistant for Orange Media Network, said that when she wanted to take sick leave, her supervisor was very understanding of the situation.

Unlike the students who are employed hourly, graduate assistants, which includes teaching and research assistants, receive paid sick leave benefits from the time they start their appointment, because of the contract between the graduate union and the university.

The rate of sick leave accrual for graduate assistants is one hour for every 15-16 hours of work, which is almost half the number of hours required for hourly student workers.

In addition to these, graduate assistants can also donate up to 50 hours of sick leave to another graduate assistant. However, undergraduate students have no such ability.

Both Patel and Huhn emphasized how student workers need to be made actively aware of their sick leave rights.

“Most probably (will) forget about this as well, because it’s not the regular thing,” Patel said. “So maybe they could provide us a hard copy and we can go through it again if a time comes in the future.”

When it comes to unpaid leave, it’s up to the discretion of the student employee’s supervisor.For more information about hourly workers’ paid sick leave policy, visit this site. For graduate assistants, visit Article 30 of the graduate employee’s contract.

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