Paid Sick Leave Now Required by Law
On Wednesday, Sept. 10th, Governor Jerry Brown signed the paid sick leave bill (Assembly Bill 1522) into law. This means that, effective July 1, 2015, California employers, regardless of size, must provide most employees paid sick leave. Eligible employees will be entitled to at least three paid sick leave days per year.
California is the second state to enact such a law (Connecticut was the first), but AB 1522 – the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act 2014 – is even more expansive, according to the bill’s author, Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego):
We become the first state in the nation to guarantee paid sick days for every single private-sector worker in the state — no matter what industry they work in, no matter if they are part-time or seasonal, and regardless of the size of their employer…This means more than 6.5 million more workers in this state will be able to take up to three days off when they or their child is sick without fearing the loss of income, hours or their job.
Paid Sick Days – Employer Responsibilities
Employees who work 30 or more days in a year are now entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. (Employers in San Francisco and San Diego may have to award more days, under certain city ordinances.) Employers may cap annual sick leave use at three days (24 hours) per year; however unused, accrued sick leave must roll over from year to year. The rollover may be capped at six days (48 hours).
Employees may use accrued sick days as of the 90th day of their employment, after which time employees may use paid sick days as they are accrued.
Employers will be able to set a minimum increment for use of sick leave, however the minimum increment cannot be greater than two hours (e.g., employers may not require employees take sick leave in increments of four hours or more).
Employees will not be entitled to pay for unused sick leave on separation of employment. However, a separated employee who is rehired within one year from the date of separation will be entitled to have any accrued, unused sick days reinstated.
Employees will be able to use sick leave for their own illness or preventive care, to care for a sick family member, and/or to recover from certain crimes.
Employers are required to provide written statements of accrued, available sick time on the employee’s pay stub, or on a separate written statement provided at the same time as wages. Pursuant to the new law, records documenting hours worked and sick days accrued or used, must be maintained for at least three years; however, we generally recommend employers maintain employment records for at least four years.
Employers will be required to post a paid sick leave poster, to be prepared by the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner will also issue a revised Wage Theft Notice (Labor Code §2810.5) for all non-exempt employees, which will include information about paid sick leave.
The new law prohibits retaliation against an employee for using sick leave and establishes a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if adverse action is taken against an employee within 30 days of the filing of a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, cooperation with an investigation, or opposition by an employee to a policy, practice or prohibited by this bill.
Employer Take Away
Employers who already provide paid sick leave should review their policies in view of these new requirements to ensure compliance. And employers who currently do not provide paid sick leave will need to review the new law and implement a compliant sick leave policy. Please let us know how we can help you with this process.
Nicole Kamm is an attorney focused on protecting and defending employers. Contact her via email: email@example.com, or via phone: 818.907.3235 for more information regarding sick leave.