Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

No state law mandates
sick leave or vacations

Question: Does Hawaii have a state law about companies giving their full-time employees so many numbers of sick-leave days? My husband works for a mainland company that has a warehouse in the islands, and just a few months ago, his company took away their sick-leave days, and now they have none. They also have a policy that if you have four sick-leave occurrences in a month, you will be terminated. Half an occurrence is given if you come in one minute late, and one whole occurrence is given if you are sick and don't get a doctor's note. So even if my husband is sick and has a doctor's note, he still won't get paid because his company doesn't allow them to have any sick-leave days.

Answer: It may surprise a lot of people that there is no Hawaii law mandating that employers give vacation or sick-leave days "unless driven by a union contract," said Tom Jackson, public information officer for the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations. He noted that Hawaii is a "hire and fire at will state" in this regard.

Vacation and sick leave are "treated as a benefit," Jackson said. As for a company's termination policy, the state does not dictate such policies, he said.

Jackson also pointed out that there is no guarantee for breaks or meals, either, under state law.

As reported previously by "Kokua Line," lunch breaks are considered a "benefit" rather than a right under the state's labor law. The exception is if the employees are 14 or 15 years old, in which case employers are required to give them a 30-minute break after five continuous hours of work.

However, if an employer does give employees in general a lunch break, the state requires that federal guidelines be followed, which means that the meal break should be at least 30 minutes long. While meal breaks are unpaid time, rest breaks, generally from five to 20 minutes, would be paid time.


To Kawananakoa School and its administrators. Recently, fund-raising tickets for pizzas bought in good faith from students canvassing the neighborhood were rejected as invalid. The explanation was that these tickets were not paid for or moneys were not turned in; therefore, they could not be redeemed. The lady in charge took names and addresses, then said they would give refunds to all those who did not get what they bought. I believe administrators dropped the ball on this. Before the pickup date, they should have all moneys or tickets accounted for. It is their problem to collect the money, not penalize the public on the day of the sale. They should have honored the tickets, regardless, or given the situation, given the public the option of donating the money outright. By not handling it correctly, they probably have lost some support from the neighborhood. -- Angry Ticket-buyer

(Kawananakoa Intermediate Principal Richard Anbe said officials were just trying to make sure that all tickets and moneys were accounted for but that if someone did buy a ticket that was questioned, they either got a product or a refund. As of Tuesday, only two purchases still had to be "clarified."

("In the past, we always tried to honor the tickets ... and if we find out we are at fault, we will honor the refund or whatever," Anbe said. But he acknowledged that the situation might have been better handled, saying that sometimes it's not what is said that angers people or leads to miscommunication, but how it is said.

(Anbe also explained that the school was trying to protect itself because, "like any other fund-raiser," there are reports that tickets are stolen or, for some reason, moneys are not turned in, and so "we have to scrutinize things.")

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