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New California Law Requires Paid Sick Leave

Posted by David Burgess | Jun 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

Effective July 1, 2015, California employers will be required to give employees the right to at least three days of paid sick leave per year. San Francisco, San Diego, and Long Beach already have their own paid sick leave laws, which also will apply to employees working in those cities (although the San Diego law has been placed on hold pending a popular referendum and the Long Beach law applies only to hotel workers).

The new California law applies to almost all employers, large or small. It also applies to most employees, exempt or non-exempt, full-time or part-time, who work at least 30 days within a year of employment.

Following are some key provisions:

  • Employees generally must accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, provided that employers may limit the accrual of sick leave to 48 hours or 6 days.
  • Employers also may limit the use of sick leave to 24 hours or 3 days per year, even if more hours have been accrued.
  • Accrued but unused sick days generally carry over to the following year. Thus, employees with year-end accruals will have sick leave available at the beginning of the new year.
  • As an alternative to the standard accrual method, employers may provide employees with the full amount of paid sick leave at the beginning of the year, in which case no accruals or carry overs are required.
  • The sick leave begins to accrue after 30 days of employment, but may not be used until 90 days of employment.
  • An employer may lend paid sick days to an employee in advance of accrual.
  • The sick leave may be used for the employee or a family member of the employee.
  • An employer is not required to pay an employee for accrued, unused paid sick days upon a separation of employment. But if an employee is rehired within one year from the date of separation, previously accrued and unused paid sick days must be reinstated.
  • Employers must meet various notice, posting, and record-keeping requirements.
  • Employers may not require employees to find replacement workers to cover the paid sick leave.
  • Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employees for using sick leave.
  • Employers who do not comply with the law are subject to substantial administrative penalties and civil damages.

Since the law is effective on July 1, 2015, California employers need to act quickly to determine whether their current sick leave policies comply with the new law and to make any necessary revisions to their employee manuals. Please contact us if we can be of assistance.

About the Author

David Burgess

David Burgess received his Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Hamilton College, with a concentration in History. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School.


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