New Requirements for Sick Leave Policies in California

Starting July 1, 2015, many California employers will need to provide paid sick leave benefits to their employees. Governor Jerry Brown approved Assembly Bill No. 1522 on September 10, 2014, enacting the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (the “Act”).[1] The Act mandates that employers provide employees who, on or after July 1, 2015, work in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment paid sick days for certain purposes.[2] These purposes include the following

(a) Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, employees or employees’ family members,[3] including children,[4] parents and legal guardians,[5] spouses,[6] registered domestic partners,[7] grandparents,[8] grandchildren,[9] and siblings;[10] and

(b) For employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, certain prescribed purposes.[11]

Employers cannot require as a condition of using paid sick days that the employees search for or find replacement workers to cover the days during which they use paid sick days.[12]

The Act requires employers to calculate accrued sick days at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked,[13] and employees are entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of their employment.[14] Under the Act, employers can restrict each employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days in each year of employment, although the default rule is that sick days carry over to the following year of employment.[15] Employers, by law, cannot retaliate against employees who request paid sick days,[16] and employers must provide payment for sick leave taken by employees no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the sick leave was taken.[17] Certain posting,[18] notice,[19] and recordkeeping requirements[20] are contained in the Act.

The Act requires the Labor Commissioner to enforce the Act,[21] which authorizes the Labor Commissioner to impose administrative fines for violations and recover specified civil penalties against employers who violate the Act, as well as attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest.[22] The Attorney General is also given the authority to recover such penalties.[23]

The Act does not cover certain types of employees, including employees covered by certain collective bargaining agreements, certain providers of in-home supportive services, and certain individuals covered by air carriers as flight deck or cabin crew members.[24] Under the Act, employees who are exempt from overtime requirements are deemed to work 40 hours per workweek, unless their normal workweeks are less than 40 hours, in which case they accrue paid sick days based upon their normal workweeks.[25]

Employers who already have a paid leave policy or paid time off policy are not required to provide additional paid sick days so long as certain prescribed requirements are met. First, employers must make available an amount of leave that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as specified in the Act.[26] Second, the policy must either satisfy the accrual, carry over, and use requirements set forth in the Act or provide no less than 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave (or equivalent paid leave or paid time) for each employee to use for each year (on an employment year, calendar year, or 12-month basis).[27]

Employees also have certain responsibilities under the Act. They must provide reasonable advance notifications if their paid sick leave needs are foreseeable.[28] Otherwise, employees must give notice as soon as practicable.

Preparing for the New Law

This posting provides only a general overview of the Act, and employers who have California employees and sick leave or paid time off policiesshould, among other things, have legal counsel review them to ensure that they conform to the requirements of the Act. Moreover, they should revise the notices that they provide to new employees and to current employees in the workplace. Furthermore, they should review their recordkeeping requirements to see if they meet the legal duties imposed by the Act. Employers with California employees who lack any sick leave or paid time off policiesshould also, among other things, make sure that they add appropriate notices to the materials that they provide to their employees, such as employee handbooks, that explain the rights and duties of employees under the Act.

The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice applicable to you. Whether or not you are a client, you should neither act nor refrain from acting based on the information provided in this posting without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice from an attorney licensed in your state. The use of any content provided in this posting or submission of any information while using this site will not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Reicker, Pfau, Pyle & McRoy LLP. This post may be considered attorney advertising.

  • The Act amends Section 2810.5 of the California Labor Code and adds Article 1.5 (commencing with Section 245) to Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 2 of the Labor Code.
  • Cal. Labor Code § 246(a) (Added by Stats. 2014, Ch. 317. Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 245.5(c). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 245.5(c)(1). (Effective July 1, 2015.) By definition, children include biological, adopted, and foster children, stepchildren, legal wards, and children to whom the employees stand in loco parentis, and the definition applies regardless of the ages or dependency status of the children. Id.
  • Id. § 245.5(c)(2). (Effective July 1, 2015.) The definition includes biological, adoptive, and foster parents, stepparents, and legal guardians of employees and their spouses or registered domestic partners, and persons who stood in loco parentis when the employees were minor children. Id.
  • Id. § 245.5(c)(3). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 245.5(c)(4). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Cal. Labor Code § 245.5(c)(5). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 245.5(c)(6). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 245.5(c)(7). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246.5(a)(2). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246.5(b). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246(b)(1). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Cal. Labor Code § 246(c). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246(d). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 247(b)(4). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246(m). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 247. (Effective July 1, 2015.).
  • Cal. Labor Code § 246(h). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 247.5. (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 248.5(a). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 248.5(b)-(c), (e). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 248.5(e). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Cal. Labor Code § 245.5(a). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246(b)(2). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246(e)(1). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246(e)(2). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
  • Id. § 246.5(a),§ 246(l). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
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