What Do California Employers Need to Know About Mandatory Paid Sick Leave?

Date: June 24, 2015

California law now requires all employers to provide mandatory paid sick leave for employees. There is no small business exception. Here are eight things every California small business owner needs to know:

Notice to Employees
(1) Beginning on January 1, 2015, employers were required to post a notice about the new paid sick leave law in a conspicuous place in the workplace. The poster can be found here.

(2) By January 8, 2015 California employers were required to give an individualized written notice to existing employees explaining how they would comply with the new paid sick leave requirements. Employers must also provide this notice when hiring a new employee. The required notice-form can be found here.

How Much Time do Employees Get?
(3) Employers can either choose to (a) allow employees to accrue paid-sick leave on continual basis, or (b) give employees an up-front allocation of 24 hours paid sick leave time at the beginning of the year.

(a) Continual Accrual Employees began accruing paid-sick leave time beginning January 1, 2015. They attain one hour of sick-leave for every 30 hours worked. Exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours per week, unless it’s well established that the employee in question works more on a regular basis. Those hours continue to accrue throughout the year, and can be rolled over into the next year. Employers using a “per hour” accrual method can cap use at 24 hours (3 days) per year, and cap total accrual at 48 hours (6 days) per year. Unused paid sick leave must carry over from year to year.

(b) Up-Front Allocation If the employer provides an up-front allocation of 24 hours paid-sick leave, the employee will not accrue mandatory paid sick leave. Importantly, the 24 hour allocation does not roll-over into the next year—meaning unused sick leave is forfeited at the end of the year.

When Can Employees Take Paid Sick Leave?
(4) Paid sick leave becomes fully effective on July 1, 2015. Employees are eligible to take paid sick leave if they have
worked 30 days in California on or after July 1, 2015.

(5) To qualify, an employee must work, in California, at least 30 days a year since commencement of employment; however, employers can require a new hire to work 90 days before taking paid sick leave time.

Can Employers Place Restrictions on Use of Sick Leave?
(6) Sick leave can be used for the employee to take care of himself/herself, a family member, a spouse or domestic partner. Sick leave can also be taken to assist victims of stalking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, or other serious matters. An employer cannot deny a request for paid sick leave for one of these purposes. And employers are strictly prohibited from retaliating against employees who use sick leave. *Note employers cannot require an employee to find a replacement for a missed shift [i.e. as a condition of taking sick leave].

(7) An employer can require employees to take paid sick leave in reasonable minimum increments (e.g. no less than two hours). Employers can also require reasonable advance notice if the need for sick leave is foreseeable.

(8) Employers must provide a statement of paid sick time balance for employees on their pay-stubs. But importantly, employers are not required to pay-out any cash value for unused sick time upon termination of an employee. Paid sick time is forfeited if unused upon termination.

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