Taking Sick Leave as Holiday: All You Need to Know

Improve employee attendance

Even the most productive and committed employees get sick once in a while. And that’s when sick leave comes into play. But what about taking sick leave as holiday? Are there any good grounds for converting one into another? Let’s find it out in this post.

Taking sick leave as holiday

What Is Sick Leave?

Sick leave is a type of time off that an employee uses to recover from a disease and attend to their healthcare needs.

The reason for taking sick leave is the main feature that differentiates it from regular time off – the latter can be enjoyed in a variety of circumstances not related to one’s health: annual getaways, family holidays, personal emergencies and whatnot.

When employees take sick leave, they are usually paid their regular salary or a percentage for their absence. Some companies may have a specific number of sick days allotted per year, and employees may need to provide a doctor’s note for extended periods of sick leave.

What Is Holiday Leave

Holiday leave is the time off an employee is granted by their employer to celebrate or observe specific holidays.

This time off is usually paid, and the number of days varies depending on the company’s policies, the country’s labor laws, and the employment contract.

Holiday leave allows employees to spend time with their families, relax, and recharge during festive periods.

Applicable Legislation

The laws that regulate holiday pay and sick leave pay can vary depending on the country or region. 

For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the United States provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. Some states have also passed laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.

Holiday pay is generally governed by company policy or employment contracts rather than specific federal laws.

The only exception is the situation when an employee takes FMLA leave during a week in which a holiday occurs and the employee would have been otherwise entitled to holiday pay, the employer must treat the holiday as any other day off for FMLA purposes. This means that the holiday will not count against the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement.

Getting Holiday Pay While on Sick Leave

Employers have no legal restrictions on converting sick days into vacation time. Moreover, many forward-looking organizations prefer to do just that and have flexible time off policies in place. They give employees more freedom in choosing when to go absent and don’t track the reasons for taking days off at all.

Hence, if you want to allow your team members to use sick leave as holiday, feel free to go ahead.

Paid Time Off Practices Around the World

A generous paid time off policy attracts talents and ensures high productivity. What are the time off practices implemented in different countries?

The problem may arise only if you compensate sick days and vacation days at different rates. For example, if holidays cost your business twice as much as sick days, you obviously have to be more careful when converting one into another.

Suppose you live in a country where employees are entitled to an indefinite number of paid sick days and a limited amount of mandatory paid vacation (aka PTO) per year. So, if a team member uses a portion of their sick leave as holiday, their earned PTO balance decreases along with your overall time off expenses.

For example:

  • If an employee uses two sick days as part of their 15-day annual vacation balance, your business will pay them for just 15 days off a year.
  • If an employee takes two sick days in addition to their 15-day annual vacation balance, you have to compensate them for 17 days off per annum.

But still, taking sick leave as a holiday has both pros and cons. It’s important to consider these before deciding to use sick leave as a holiday or allowing your employees to do so.


  • Using sick leave as a holiday can allow you to rest and recover from any illness or health issues you may be experiencing.
  • Taking time off can help prevent burnout and improve your overall well-being, especially if you feel stressed or overworked.
  • It offers flexibility in how you use your time off, allowing you to prioritize your health and well-being when needed.
  • In some cases, taking sick leave as a holiday may not require a medical certificate, making it easier to take time off when necessary.


  • Using sick leave as a holiday when you are not actually sick can be considered dishonest and may violate company policies.
  • Depending on company policies, using sick leave for non-medical reasons may affect your entitlement to sick pay or other health benefits.
  • Taking unplanned time off may impact your workload and deadlines, potentially causing stress for you and your colleagues.
  • Constantly using sick leave as a holiday may affect how you are perceived by your employer and colleagues, potentially harming your professional reputation.

Best Practices for Employers

In case you still want to let employees take sick leave as vacation, there are a few things you need to do in order to make the best use of this practice:

  • Define the rules – Your time off policy should contain a special clause explaining when it’s possible to convert sick leave into holiday and when it’s not. If employees must apply a special time off request procedure for taking sick leave as holiday, make sure to describe it in full as well.
  • Communicate the rules to your team – After your policy is updated and all the relevant info is included in it, share the news with your staff members. Make certain they learn about the introduced time off rules in a due manner and have free access to your time off policy at any moment throughout their employment periods.
  • Track time off consistently – Even if you consider implementing a flexible time off policy in your company and don’t intend to monitor why employees go absent, don’t discard leave tracking entirely. Detailed absence data is in handy when you need to analyze workforce capacity, plan project workloads and enhance team productivity. Thus, it’s useful to record when and how much time off your employees take throughout the year.

Manual time off tracking is the thing of the past. For better results and a more streamlined process, be sure to apply a robust software tool.

actiPLANS is ready to provide all the features you need to monitor employee absence and analyze time off data in depth. Explore how it simplifies the leave management process and sign up for a free trial to test it firsthand.

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