New California Law: Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave

By XobeeAdmin on October 1, 2014 in Legal Update
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On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. This Act entitles employees to paid sick days for certain purposes. Employers must be in compliance with the Act no later than July 1, 2015.

The Act states an employee must receive the following rights:

  • One hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
  • Employers must allow employees to use paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment; employers may allow employees to use paid sick days before the 90th day of employment.
  • Exempt employees are considered to work 40 hours per workweek unless their normal workweek is less than 40 hours and then the paid sick days shall accrue based on their normal workweek.
  • Employees may be restricted to using only 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick time in a year, however the unused paid sick time carries over to the following year.
  • Employers are not required to allow an employee’s accrued paid sick leave to exceed 48 hours or 6 days.

Who is not covered by this new law:

  • Employees who are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement which provides for paid sick days and meets other criteria.
  • Certain providers of in-home supportive service.
  • Individuals employed by an air carrier such as flight deck members or cabin crew.
  • Employers who already provide paid sick days or paid time off that makes available an amount of leave that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions, and does either of the following: i) satisfies the accrual, carry over, and use requirements of the new paid sick leave law, or ii) provides no less than 24 hours of paid sick leave, or equivalent paid leave or paid time off, for employee use for each year of employment or calendar year or 12-month basis.

Conditions of Paid Sick Leave:

  • Paid sick leave must be provided upon the oral or written request for the following purposes: diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventative care for an employee or an employee’s family member, an employee or who is a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
    • A family member means a child or parent (biological, adopted, foster, step, legal ward, or someone who stands in place of a parent/child), spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling.
  • Employees may not be required to find someone to cover for them before being granted sick leave.
  • Employers cannot deny an employee’s right to use accrued sick days, threaten to discharge, discharge, suspend or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using or attempting to use sick leave.
  • Employers may lend paid sick days to employees before they are accrued at the employer’s discretion and with proper documentation.
  • Upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment, employers are not required to provide compensation to an employee for accrued, unused paid sick days.
  • If an employee separates from an employer and is rehired within one year from the date of separation, previously accrued and unused paid sick days shall be reinstated which will be allowed to be used upon rehire.

Employer’s responsibilities:

  • Employers must provide employees with a written notice of the amount of paid sick leave available, or paid time off leave an employer provides in lieu of sick leave either on the employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the employee’s payment of wages.
  • An employee can determine how much paid sick leave he or she needs to use, however the employer may set a reasonable minimum not to exceed two hours.
  • Reasonable advance notice must be provided if the sick leave is foreseeable, however, if it is not foreseeable, then the employee shall provide notice of the need for leave as soon as practicable.
  • The employee must be paid for the sick leave no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the sick leave was taken.
  • Employers must display a poster created by the Labor Commissioner informing employees of their rights in regard to this Act in a conspicuous place.
  • Employers must keep records for three years documenting all of the hours worked and paid sick days accrued and used by an employee and allow the Labor Commission access to those records upon demand.
  • There is a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation if an employer denies an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharges, threatens to discharge, demotes, suspends, or in any manner discriminates against an employee within 30 days of the filing of a complaint by the employee with the Labor Commissioner or alleging a violation of this article, cooperation of any employee with an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article, or opposition by the employee to a policy, practice, or act that is prohibited by this article.

The Labor Commissioner will enforce this act, hold hearings in regards to violations and impose specified administrative fines for any violations.