March 2, 2015 DLSE Provides Guidance on California Paid Sick Leave Notice Requirements

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has published a new set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help employers interpret and comply with California's new paid sick leave law.  The new FAQs, as well as the FAQs previously published in December 2014, can be found here.  The new FAQs specify that employers must provide written notice of the new law to all employees, including those hired before January 1, 2015.  

Discussion

The new paid sick leave law provides employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked beginning on July 1, 2015, and allows for up to 3 paid sick days to be taken per year (see previous E-Updates from September 2014 and December 2014). As previously reported, employers must also provide notice of the new law, by either issuing a revised Wage Theft Prevention Act notice or by providing other appropriate written notice, to all new employees hired after January 1, 2015.  Left unanswered, however, was if and when employers were required to provide notice to employees hired before January 1, 2015.

The latest round of FAQs answers that question by requiring employers to provide notice of the requirements of the new law to all employees hired before January 1, 2015, regardless of whether the employer has made any changes to its sick leave policy.   Employers who either created new paid sick leave policies or revised existing sick leave or PTO policies in response to the new law must provide notice within 7 days of the effective date of the new or revised policy.  Employers that already had compliant sick leave policies and made no changes must also provide notice, presumably no later than July 8, 2015.  

Notice is satisfied by issuing revised Wage Theft Prevention Act notices to all employees hired prior to January 1, 2015 (and any employees hired after that date who have not yet received a notice).  The model notice provided by the DLSE can be found here.   Employers may also satisfy the notice requirement by using an approved alternate method, including giving notice of the new legal requirements in a pay stub or itemized wage statement.  Alternate notice must contain the same information provided in the model Wage Theft Prevention Act notices, must meet the statutory requirements for alternate notice, and must specify how the employer intends to meet its requirements under the new law.

What This Means

The new DLSE guidance makes clear that all employers, even those with compliant sick leave policies, must provide notice of the new sick leave law to employees within the appropriate timeframe.  While employees hired after January 1, 2015 should already be receiving notice of the required changes, the DLSE guidance now places an affirmative duty on employers to provide revised notice to employees hired prior to January 1, 2015.  Employers should begin planning to satisfy these requirements.  Employers should also make sure they are ready to comply with the substantive requirements of the sick leave law, including implementing any necessary modifications to existing sick leave or paid time off policies, no later than July 1, 2015. 

This E-Update was authored by J. Rod Betts, Aaron Buckley and Michael Etchepare.  For more information, please contact Mr. Betts, Mr. Buckley, Mr Etchepare or any other Paul, Plevin attorney by calling (619) 237-5200.