California Becomes Second State to Require Paid Sick Leave

Author: Gloria Ju

September 11, 2014

On September 10, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, making California the second state behind Connecticut to require paid sick leave. Effective July 1, 2015, employees who work in California for 30 or more days a year are entitled to take up to 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave.

All employers are covered regardless of size, including the state, political subdivisions of the state and municipalities. Most employees are covered, including part-time and temporary workers. However, employees covered by certain collective bargaining agreements, those providing in-home supportive services and certain air carrier employees (e.g., flight deck or cabin crew members) are not covered.

Paid sick time will accrue at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees may begin using accrued sick time on the 90th day of employment in reasonable minimum increments that do not exceed two hours.

Paid sick time may be used for:

  • Preventative care or the diagnosis, care or treatment of a health condition of an employee or an employee's family member (e.g., child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, sibling); and
  • An employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

The law includes notice provisions for both employers and employees. The Labor Commissioner will create a poster that employers will be required to display in a conspicuous place. Employers will also be required to give a written notice of rights to new and current employees, plus a written notice of the amount of paid sick leave available to each employee with wage payments. Employees will be required to provide reasonable advance notification if the need for leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee must provide notice as soon as practicable.

Accrued paid sick time may be carried over to the following year, but an employer may cap accrual at 48 hours or six days. An employer will not be required to pay employees for accrued but unused sick time upon termination of employment. However, if an employee returns to work within one year, the accrued time must be reinstated.

The law also prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who request or use paid sick leave.

An employer will not have to provide additional paid sick time under this law if it already has an equivalent paid time off policy in place. The law does not discourage or prevent an employer from having a more generous policy. Cities such as San Diego and San Francisco have already passed paid sick leave laws.

"Whether you're a dishwasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family's health and your job," Brown said. "Make no mistake, California is putting its workers first."