Sick leave policies are important for California employers to consider as we continue in 2015. On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB-1522 (the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014), which requires virtually all California employers, regardless of size, to provide paid sick leave to their employees. In response to the law, which takes effect on July 1 of this year, we have outlined a series of “paid sick leave policies” that are compliant with the new law. We recommend that you review your current sick leave policies to ensure that you are in compliance.
Employers have two options for determining sick leave for their employees: 1) a yearly basis approach in which employees are given a set number of sick leave days for the entire year on January 1, 2) an accrual approach in which employees accumulate hours of sick leave time for a certain number of hours worked.
Yearly Basis Policy
- All employees, including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, will have three days, or 24 hours, of paid sick leave per year.
- Employers provide the full amount of paid sick leave on January 1 of each year. Employees cannot carry over unused paid sick leave to the following year.
- All employees, including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, will accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked.
- Accrual is capped at six days, or 48 hours. Once employees reach this amount they cannot accrue further paid sick leave. Accrued and unused paid sick leave will, however, carry over to the following year.
- Paid sick leave will begin to accrue on July 1, 2015. If the employee is hired after July 1, 2015, paid sick leave will begin to accrue when employment begins.
- Employees may begin to use paid sick leave on the 90th day of employment. After the 90th day, paid sick leave may be used as it is accrued.
Paid Sick Leave Availability and Use
- Employees may use paid sick leave for preventive care or the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.
- Paid sick leave may also be used if the employee is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and seeks medical attention for related injuries, services from a shelter or crisis center, psychological counseling, legal relief, or to ensure the health and safety of the employee or their child.
- Employees may use paid sick leave in two-hour increments. The employer must provide notice of the employee’s remaining paid sick leave hours on the employee’s wage statement or in a separate document provided with the employee’s wages.
- Employers must compensate for sick leave taken by an employee no later than the payday for the next regular pay period after the sick leave was taken.
- Employees must provide notification in advance to their employer if the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable. If not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice of the need for leave to their employer as soon as practicable.
- Employees are entitled to compensation for their sick days at their standard hourly wage. Exceptions to this rule include employees that have had different hourly rates in the 90 days preceding the sick leave, employees that earn commissions, and nonexempt salaried employees. Employers determine the rate of pay for these employees by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.
- A terminated employee does not get paid out for unused sick days. But, if the company rehires the same employee within one year of termination, any previously accrued and unused sick days will be reinstated.
- Some employees are exempt, including those who work less than 30 days within a year of employment, some in-home healthcare workers, flight crew members, and some workers subject to collective bargaining agreements.
- Employers also need to display a poster – available from the Labor Commissioner – containing all the information outlined in the bill. The poster informs employees that they have the right to request and use accrued paid sick leave and cannot be terminated or retaliated against for using it.
- Employers must keep records of the hours worked and paid sick days accrued and used by employees for at least three years. An employee is entitled to the maximum number of hours accruable under the law if their employer does not maintain adequate records.
- An employer is not required to increase the number of paid sick leave days provided if their current policy provides the same – or better – benefits as the new law.