Portions of California’s Paid Sick Leave Law Already in Effect

John GarnerCompliance, Legislative Updates, Resources

Even though employees in California will not begin to earn paid sick leave until July 1, 2015, other parts of the law, including posting and notice requirements became effective January 1, 2015.  There has been a great deal of confusion about the effective date; however, it is clear that employers should already have posters in place describing the new law (unfortunately, some poster providers have not yet updated their posters) and that new hires should be given written notice of their rights.

An employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of employment, is entitled to paid sick leave.  Employees, including part-time and temporary employees, will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.  Accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.

Employees covered by qualifying collective bargaining agreements, In-Home Supportive Services providers, and certain employees of air carriers are not covered by this law.

An employer may limit the amount of paid sick leave an employee can use in one year to 24 hours or three days.  Accrued paid sick leave may be carried over to the next year, but it may be capped at 48 hours or six days.

Usage:

  • An employee may use accrued paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.
  • An employee may request paid sick days in writing or verbally.  An employee cannot be required to find a replacement as a condition for using paid sick days.
  • An employee can take paid leave for employee’s own or a family member for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventive care or for specified purposes for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

There are several things employers must do to comply with the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522):

  • Display the poster on paid sick leave where employees can read it easily.
  • Provide written notice to employees of sick leave rights at the time of hire.
  • Provide at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave for each eligible employee to use per year.
  • Allow eligible employees to use accrued paid sick leave upon reasonable request.
  • Show how many days of sick leave an employee has available.  This must be on a pay stub or a document issued the same day as a paycheck.
  • Keep records showing how many hours have been earned and used for three years.

Retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests or uses paid sick days is prohibited.  An employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates against the employee for exercising these rights or other rights protected under the Labor Code.

The state’s new sick leave law takes effect January 1, 2015.  However, the right to accrue and take sick leave under this law does not take effect until July 1, 2015.  The different dates are a result of the general effective dates of new legislation (on January 1 following enactment of the law) and the way the law was drafted making some of its provisions operative on a specified date (July 1, 2015).  Both the qualifying periods that determine which employees are eligible for paid sick leave and the employee notice required by the Labor Code became effective on January 1, 2015, but the law provides that entitlement does not begin until July 1, 2015.

An employee qualifies for paid sick leave by working for an employer on or after January 1, 2015, for at least 30 days within a year in California and by satisfying a 90 day employment period (which works like a probationary period) before an employee can actually take any sick leave.

Employees who work less than 30 days in California within a year are not entitled to be paid sick leave under this new law.

Although an employee begins to accrue paid sick leave on July 1, 2015, or his or her first day of employment if hired after July 1, 2015, if the employee works less than 90 days for the employer, the employee is not entitled to take paid sick leave.

A qualifying employee begins to accrue paid sick leave beginning on July 1, 2015, or if hired after that date on the first day of employment.  An employee is entitled to use paid sick leave only after meeting the qualifications for paid sick leave and accruing enough paid sick leave time to use for one of the stated purposes of the law.

An employee who works at least 30 days within a year in California, including part-time, per diem, and temporary employees, are covered by this new law with some specific exceptions.  Providers of publicly-funded In-Home Supportive Services are exempt.  Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements with specified provisions are exempt, as are individuals employed by an air carrier as a flight deck or cabin crew member, if they receive compensated time off at least equivalent to the requirements of the new law.

Temporary employees of a staffing agency are covered by the new law.  Therefore, whoever is the employer or joint employer is required to provide paid sick leave to qualifying employees.

Starting July 1, 2015, employees will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.  That works out to a little more than eight days a year for someone who works full time.  But employers can limit the amount of paid sick leave employees can take in one year to 24 hours (three days).

Because paid sick leave accrues beginning on July 1, 2015 or the first day of employment if hired after July 1, 2015, the 12-month period will vary by hire date for those employees hired after July 1, 2015.  Therefore, the measurement will mostly be tracked by the employee’s anniversary date.

An employer may elect to advance sick leave to an employee before it is accrued, but there is no requirement for an employer to do so under this law.

Employers with employees working in California should post the notice right away, which can be found at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Publications/Paid_Sick_Days_Poster_Template_(11_2014).pdf.

Employers should also provide new hires with the following notice: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Publications/LC_2810.5_Notice_(Revised-11_2014).pdf.

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