If you have employees who work in California, please be aware of the mandatory statewide Paid Sick Leave Law (AB 1522). Available sick time must be shown on employee paystubs.
In addition, California employers must display a sick leave poster in a conspicuous place where employees will see it. You may use this Division of Labor Standards sick leave poster which is available for download.
Learn more about the California Paid Sick Leave Law by reading the rest of this article. You can also read the information covered in the state poster and review these Frequently Asked Questions.
The California sick leave law is quite complicated. I am presenting the details as I understand them. Readers are advised to confirm this information with the State of California and/or a labor law attorney. Things get particularly complicated for employers subject to a local paid sick leave law (such as Oakland and San Francisco), in which case the most generous provisions of the local and state laws will apply.
Here are some highlights of the state law:
- Employees qualify to START ACCRUING SICK LEAVE ON THEIR FIRST DAY OF EMPLOYMENT. Officially, employees are entitled to earn sick leave once they have worked at least 30 days in the State of California for any employer. In practice, I think most employers will not worry about whether this is true or not. It is okay to start every employee accruing sick leave on their first day.
- Employees are allowed to TAKE SICK LEAVE ON THEIR 90TH DAY OF EMPLOYMENT, though employers can choose to disregard this waiting period.
- Employers can LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF SICK LEAVE an employee can take to a MAXIMUM OF 3 DAYS OR 24 HOURS PER YEAR.
- Under the HOURLY ACCRUAL METHOD, employees are allocated ONE HOUR OF PAID LEAVE FOR EVERY 30 HOURS WORKED. The amount of paid sick leave CARRIED OVER TO THE NEXT YEAR CAN BE LIMITED TO 6 DAYS OR 48 HOURS.
- Alternatively, employers can use the ANNUAL ALLOCATION METHOD, whereby employees are GRANTED 24 HOURS OF SICK LEAVE at the beginning of every year, with no annual carryover. I RECOMMEND THAT CHILD CARE PROVIDERS USE THIS METHOD. IT IS EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND IT GUARANTEES THAT EMPLOYEES WILL HAVE 24 HOURS OF SICK LEAVE AVAILABLE BY THEIR 120TH DAY OF EMPLOYMENT, AS REQUIRED. In my experience, this is often not the case when using the hourly accural method.
- Employee sick time hours (accrued or taken) MUST BE SHOWN ON PAYSTUBS.
- FULL TIME, PART-TIME AND TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES ALL QUALIFY.
- Employers can establish a PAID TIME OFF (PTO) plan instead of a paid sick leave plan, if they prefer. This would give employees the ability to take time off for reasons other than medical need. Such a PTO plan must satisfy the same accrual, carryover, and use requirements as specified under state and/or local sick leave law.
Employers can offer a more generous sick leave benefit, but cannot offer anything less than mandated by law.
In some parts of the state, there may be local sick leave laws. This is the case in Oakland and San Francisco. If you are aware of any other California jurisdictions with local sick leave ordinances, please let me know.
When multiple laws are in effect, employers should look carefully at both laws and be sure to adhere to the most stringent rules mandated.
The Oakland and San Francisco sick leave laws are very similar and both accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. (Just as mandated by the statewide law.) Oakland and San Francisco also allow for a carryover. However, the carryover in these cities is up to only 40 hours, not the 48 hours specified in the statewide law. Employers in San Francisco and Oakland should implement the more generous statewide carryover and allow employees to bring up to 48 hours of sick leave into the new year.
Employees can take paid leave:
- For themselves or a family member for preventive care or care of an existing health condition. Family members include the employee’s parent, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. Preventive care would include annual physicals or flu shots.
- For specified purposes if they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- For partial days, you can require the employee to take at least two hours of leave, but otherwise the determination of how much time is needed is left to the employee.
- Oakland and San Francisco differences:
It is my understanding the both of these cities permit a covered employee without a spouse or registered domestic partner to designate one person for whom the employee may use paid sick leave to provide aid or care. An employee must be permitted to make such a designation no later than the date on which the employee first accrues an hour of paid sick leave. The employee has 10 work days in which to make the designation. Annually thereafter, an employee with no spouse or registered domestic partner must be provided a 10-day window to make a designation, including the opportunity to change any previous designation
You can learn more about the California Paid Sick Leave Law by reading the information covered in the state poster and reviewing these Frequently Asked Questions.
Last updated 5 January 2015