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California's New Paid Sick Leave Law

Here is useful information for business owners about California's new paid sick leave law, including how much sick time they must give employees and the new payroll reporting rules.

Starting July 1, 2015, California employers must allow their eligible employees to accrue at least three paid sick days per year. The new law was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown last September and is among a swelling number of paid sick leave laws being enacted in cities and states across the United States. The law as well as posting requirements became effective January 1, 2015.

Under California’s new law, employers of all sizes, including very small businesses, must allow employees who work at least 30 days per year to earn and take paid sick days. All types of employees — including full-time, part-time and temporary — can be covered by the law. Some exceptions apply.

Employers are encouraged to ensure they have already met posting and notice requirements and are preparing to meet policy and recordkeeping requirements when the law takes effect July 1, or they risk facing administrative fines and other penalties.

In general, here’s how it works: Eligible employees must accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or at least 24 hours (or three days) of sick leave per year. Employer may cap the amount of paid sick time accrued to 48 hours per year and may also cap the amount of sick time taken in one year to 24 hours (or three days). The employee must be allowed to carry over accrued but unused paid sick leave to the following year. Employers are encouraged to review the provisions of the law and the FAQs on the state website for additional detail and application to special circumstances including seasonal employees and rehires.

Employers can be more generous with their employee sick-day policies, if they choose, but they must at least meet the requirements for accruing, using, and taking (including reasons for taking) under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act.

Employees can use their accrued sick days for their own preventive care or care due to illness, or the preventative care or care due to illness of a covered family member. Employers are not allowed to require employees to find a replacement worker when taking accrued sick leave.

Beyond the accrual rules, employers must also take some steps to ensure employees know how many sick days they have available and inform them of their rights.

For example, employers must show on employees’ pay stubs or on a document issued on the same day as the paycheck, the amount of available sick time. Employers that don’t currently keep records of their employees’ sick days, including how many hours were earned and how many were used must begin to do so, and will need to keep those records for at least three years.

Employers must display a poster with required information related to employees’ sick leave rights. The Labor Commission has developed a poster which includes the required information (which can be found in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese) on the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement website. Employers must also provide covered employees with an individualized Notice to Employee Form with the requisite sick leave information at the appropriate time.

Employers impacted by the new California law and/or applicable local paid sick leave ordinances may need to update their sick-day policies accordingly and consult with legal counsel if they’re unsure how to accommodate the new rules. HR services are available that include the assistance of a dedicated HR professional who can help your business prepare for new state paid sick leave law.


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