With new labor laws and regulations being enacted each year, staying up to date and compliant is always a challenge for HR management. And this is true for sick leave policies in California.
Surprisingly to some, unlike most other developed countries, the federal government here in the U.S. does not require paid family or sick leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does require eligible employers to provide unpaid family leave. But paid family leave and paid sick days are only required on the state and local levels.
State Mandated Paid Family Leave
And a number of local and state laws passed in recent years which provide paid family leave and paid sick days, including in California. In states that have not enacted their own paid sick leave laws, employees are subject to their employer’s policies.
While most employers will agree that their workers are entitled to a certain amount of time off for illness and sick family care, and some may even be agreeable to offering paid family leave, it is often not available.
A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that,
"This is a particularly salient concern for women, who are often the primary caretakers for children and also comprise nearly half of the nation’s workers. Approximately seven in ten women (70.5%) with children under age 18 were in the labor market in 2016."
There are currently only four states that have enacted laws offering paid family leave:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
In addition, the District of Columbia has passed paid family leave laws of their own.
according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a paid family leave law was passed in Washington state in 2007, but it was never fully implemented at the time it was set to go into effect. The state has yet to acquire the needed funding, and the program has been indefinitely postponed.
States With Mandated Paid Sick Days
While there are no federal requirements for employers to give employees paid sick days, a number of states and local municipalities offer such when they or a family member has a short-term illness that prevents them from working.
[image courtesy of KFF.org]
In addition to having paid time off for illness, many of the laws also allow for employees to use their paid sick days for other reasons such as caring for other sick family members. In California, employees may use this time in cases of sexual assault, harassment, or domestic violence.
As noted earlier, the FMLA provides for protected time off, but it does not provide for paid sick leave. Paid sick leave laws differ significantly from the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.
Paid sick day policies typically give workers a minimum number of paid sick hours or days each year, and usually dictate the specific reasons for which employees may take that leave.
In California, the so-called Paid Sick Leave law, or the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522), has been in effect since July 1, 2015. For many smaller employers it is a challenge oftentimes to implement all the required processes and posted notices, issuing forms, and maintain compliance with the law.
Informing Your Employees
Since January 1, 2015 in California, employers are required to place a poster containing the following information in a conspicuous place at the workplace:
- That an employee is entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick days
- That retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests paid sick days or uses paid sick days or both is prohibited
- That an employee has the right under this law to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates against an employee.
In addition, employers are required to provide most workers with an individualized Notice to Employee that includes paid sick leave information.
You can find more information on the FAQ page of the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations website.
Some of the requirements of the Paid Sick Leave Law for California employers include the following:
- California’s law requires employers to offer a minimum amount of paid sick leave based on an accrual rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or offer employees a lump sum at the beginning of each year that equals three days (24 hours) of paid sick leave.
- Employers must document how many days of paid sick leave employees have available on their pay stub or on a separate document that is issued with an employee’s paycheck.
- Employers must allow workers to roll over up to 48 hours of accrued, untaken paid sick leave (which can be limited to 24 hours per year).
Stay Informed and Stay in Compliance
Maintaining an updated and compliant paid sick leave strategy and policy will help your organization meet its obligations, as well as provide accuracy and timeliness. Understanding the law, automating sick leave tracking and calculations, and prioritizing accurate record keeping will make compliance a sure thing.
Another key step in maintaining HR compliance and increasing your company's cost-effectiveness is to consider outsourcing. A professional agency such as Accuchex can provide much-needed help with Human Resources needs and questions.
Accuchex is a full spectrum Payroll Management Services provider offering expertise in Time Management, Insurance and Retirement issues, as well.
If you are looking for reliable resource for your HR issues, we can help. And you can get your Free Download: California Paid Sick Leave Law to help you make an informed decision, or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.