Sept. 9, 2014 Governor Brown Signs Bill Mandating Paid Sick Leave in California

Today Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring California employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees beginning July 1, 2015.

Discussion

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work 30 or more days in a calendar year.  Paid sick leave will accrue at a minimum rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, and an employee may begin using it beginning on the 90th calendar day of employment.   

Employers may limit an employee's use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or three sick days in each calendar year, and may provide 24 hours or three days in bulk at the beginning of the year in lieu of an accrual process.  Employers may set a minimum increment of at least two hours for the use of paid sick leave, which can be used for the personal illness or preventive care of the employee or the employee's family member, or to recover from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Employees are required to provide their employers with reasonable advance notification of their need to use paid sick leave if the need is foreseeable, or "as soon as practicable" if it is not foreseeable.   

Accrued paid sick leave will carry over to the following year of employment, but employers are entitled to cap an employee's accrual at 48 hours or six days.  Employees are not entitled to a payout of accrued but unused paid sick leave upon separation from employment, but if an employee is rehired within one year from the date of separation, any previously accrued but unused leave must be reinstated.  

Employers are required to maintain records of their employee's accrual and use of paid sick leave for at least three years.  The notice provided to an employee at the beginning of employment pursuant to the Wage Theft Prevention Act must include notice of the employee's right to paid sick leave, and employers must provide each employee with a notice of the amount of paid sick leave or paid time off available to the employee on the employee's itemized wage statement, or in a separate writing provided on each pay date.  Employers must also display a poster created by the State Labor Commissioner notifying employees of their paid sick leave rights.  Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for using paid sick leave, filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner alleging retaliation, or cooperating in an investigation of an alleged violation by the employer.  

Employers that already provide paid sick leave or paid time off that satisfies the new law's requirements are not required to provide any additional paid sick leave.  The new law exempts in-home support workers, most employees covered by collective bargaining agreements that provide paid sick leave or paid time off, and construction industry employees covered by collective bargaining agreements entered into before January 1, 2015, or that expressly waive the requirements of the new law.

What This Means

Employers should immediately begin making arrangements to comply with the law.  Employers with existing paid sick leave or paid time off policies should ensure their existing plans comply with the law, or adjust those policies as necessary.  

We will discuss the practical obligations and implications of this law at our Annual Workplace Employment Law seminar on November 6, 2014. 

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