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New Law Mandates Sick Pay For All Employees

On September 10, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark bill requiring most employers in California to provide paid sick days. The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (“The Act”- H.R.1286) will take effect on July 1, 2015. Under the Act, leave will be provided to “ensure that workers in California can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families by requiring employers to provide a minimum level of paid sick days, including time for family care.”

Starting on July 1, 2015, most employees who work in California for 30 days or more within a year from beginning their employment will accrue not less than one hour of paid sick time per every 30 hours worked. Employees exempt from overtime requirements, such as professional employees, are deemed to work 40 hours per workweek, unless their normal workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case they will accrue paid sick days based on their normal workweek.

Who is Covered?

Employers under the Act include persons employing another under any appointment or contract of hire and includes the state, political subdivisions of the state, and municipalities. However, the Act exempts a small number of employees, including employees covered by valid collective bargaining agreements, if the agreements expressly provide for paid sick days, and employees in the construction industry covered by valid collective bargaining agreements, provided the agreements were either entered into before January 1, 2015, or the employees expressly waived the requirements of the Act.

The Act also excludes providers of in-home supportive services and individuals employed by air carriers as flight deck or cabin crew members, so long as the employees are provided with compensated time off equal to or exceeding the amount established by the Act. Significantly, employers who already have paid leave policies that provide for at least as much paid sick leave as the Act for the same purpose under the same conditions will not be required to provide additional paid sick days.

What is Covered?

Employees may begin using paid sick days starting on the 90th day of employment. However, employers may limit paid sick leave to 24 hours or three days on a 12-month basis. Accrued paid sick days must carry over to the next year of employment, but employers have no obligation to allow an employee’s total accrual of paid sick leave to exceed 48 hours or six days. The Act sets the rate of pay as an employee’s hourly wage. The Act also requires that an employer provide employees with written notices detailing the amount of paid sick leave available on either employee wage statements or in separate writings.

Upon request, an employer must provide employees paid sick days for the purposes of either (1) the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an employee’s existing medical condition or preventative care for an employee or an employee’s family member, or (2) for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence and requests recovery time.

Commencing on July 1, 2015, employers who fail to comply with the Act will be subject to an administrative penalty. The Labor Commissioner will provide employers with posters containing the requisite information, which must be displayed in the workplace.

Greta T. Hutton, Esq.

Need Help With Compliance?

Greta Hutton is available to discuss with employers implementation of the new sick leave requirements. She can be contacted at (818) 547-5108 or by e-mail at [email protected]