[Fox Business] -- With flu season at its peak, small companies are likely feeling the toll of sick workers on both productivity levels and bottom lines. One thing business owners want to avoid throwing into this sickly winter mix—a lawsuit.

When it comes to paid time off and sick leave, small businesses face different regulations depending on the size of the company.

Karen Harned, legal counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, said all businesses with 50 employees and up must meet the requirements of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If a worker requests three days or more off due to illness, you do have to allow them the time off. You don’t, however, have to pay them.

“That gives them protected time off, and you have to grant it,” Harned said.

Harned said you should stipulate your workers take their paid time off first, before deferring to the FMLA coverage.

“Companies will say that you are required to take your paid sick leave,” she said. “You can’t save your paid sick time for later if you are claiming FMLA time.”