Earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1522 guaranteeing paid sick leave to most California employees. The new law, which is entitled the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014,” goes into effect on July 1, 2015 and covers all employers in California. Here’s a quick summary of the new law’s major provisions:
1. California employees will accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked in California.
2. California employees will be allowed to use their accrued sick leave for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition, or for preventative care, for themselves or a “family member” (which includes a child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling).
3. Although sick leave accrues from the first date of employment, the right to use paid sick leave begins only at 90 days of employment.
4. California employers may limit an employee’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours (3 days) in each year of employment.
5. Accrued but unused sick leave carriers over from year-to-year, but the employer may place a “cap” on further accruals at 48 hours (6 days).
6. At termination, accrued but unused sick leave is not paid to the employee.
7. The new sick leave law works in conjunction with California’s “Kin Care Law.” Thus, an employee who has accrued and available paid sick leave may use that leave (up to a maximum amount equal to half of his or her annual accrual amount at the then-current rate of entitlement) to care for his or her child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner.
8. If a California employer currently has a sick leave or PTO plan that allows an employee to take sick leave on terms at least as generous as the new law’s, then the employer has no obligation to offer any additional sick leave.
9. California employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees who request/use paid sick leave.
10. California employers must give each employee a statement of accrued and available sick leave on the employee’s pay stub or wage statement. Employers must also update their Wage Theft Prevention Act notice to include a discussion of employee rights under the new sick leave law. In addition, employers must also post a new workplace poster regarding the new law.
11. The new law exempts certain employees from coverage. For example, certain employees covered by collective bargaining agreements are not covered. Nor are certain employees in the in-home support industry or airline flight deck or cabin crew employees who are already provided with compensated time off equal to or exceeding the law’s requirements.
12. The new sick leave law has no private right of action, so employers cannot be sued by employees for alleged violations.
13. However, the new sick leave law will enforced by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and the California Attorney General. If an employer is found to have violated the law, the employer will face a maximum administrative penalty of $4,000 per aggrieved employee plus all other legal remedies “as may be appropriate to remedy the situation,” including reinstatement, back pay, payment of sick days unlawfully withheld, and attorneys’ fees.
You can find the full text of the new law here.
Employers who lack a leave policy will need to adopt a new sick leave policy that meets the new state law’s minimum requirements. Employers who lack a sick leave policy but who have a PTO policy will need to review their existing PTO policy to see if it meets the minimum requirements of the new law. Similarly, employers who have an existing sick leave policy will need to review that policy to ensure that it meets the minimum requirements of the new law. Finally, employers in San Francisco who are already subject to the City’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance will need to integrate the new state law’s minimum requirements into their existing city-mandated policy.