Doctor and assistant looking at papers

How to Provide Vacation and Sick Time for Your Medical Office Staff


Did you know there is no federal law requiring employers to provide paid holidays, vacation, or sick leave? But there are state laws that affect what employers, including doctor’s offices, must provide. And today’s workforce has come to expect these common standards in the workplace.

To keep your healthcare employees happy and healthy, you should offer a package to allow for time out of the office, both for personal matters and leisure. Here are some things to consider when developing your vacation and sick leave policy.


You’re not required to offer paid holidays, but many practices do. And, knowing when to close may depend on the population you serve and the needs of your employees. Typical paid holidays include:
• New Year’s Day
• Memorial Day
• Independence Day
• Labor Day
• Thanksgiving Day
• Christmas Day

Often, businesses and medical practices will also close the office on the day after Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or Presidents’ Day. Of course medical offices often elect to remain open on holidays, and you may want to rotate staff so no one has to work every holiday.


A typical vacation policy accounts for one or two weeks of paid vacation per year. But how that is accrued is something each employer can determine. Some medical offices grant the entire vacation time amount immediately upon hiring. Others will implement a policy where a new employee must work for a certain number of months before requesting vacation time. Or, you can develop an accrual formula, such as 8.5 hours of vacation time per month.

Sick Leave

In many cases, the most important benefit will be sick days. Especially in a medical office environment where your staff is exposed to more germs than a corporate employee. On top of that, allowing your medical staff to take time off when they’re sick also reduces the risk for your patients, who may be more susceptible to additional infections.

It is common for medical employers to allow for up to five sick days per year. And the Family and Medical Leave Act requires you to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to cope with a major medical diagnosis, family illness or the birth of a child.

Paid Time Off

One solution many employers embrace is categorizing any time off as PTO, or paid time off. This can give your employees some ownership over how they use this time. Sick days become personal days so your staff doesn’t have to feel like they can’t take a half a day off for a child’s activity or other personal needs.

Unpaid Time Off

There are also several instances where Federal law requires employers to offer unpaid time off for things like jury duty, voting, and military service. Unpaid time off should really be the least of your worries as a medical employer since there are requirements and provisions for the implementation in most cases.

If your medical employee is willing to take time off, their reasons are usually pretty solid. They must have something to tend to, really want a break, or be on top of their work and confident that they can miss time. Since you’re not paying for this time, it should not be a focus for your practice until it disrupts the work or becomes a habit.

State Rules

Finally, although federal rules aren’t extensive, there may be state rules that affect HR management, so be sure to check before creating a policy.

Whatever your situation, give us a call and we can help you set up a consistent and legal time-off policy.