With the threat of a potential of coronavirus pandemic, staying up to date with sick leave policies is critical for HR management.
[This post was previously published in May 2018. It has been updated and revised to provide the most up-to-date information.]
While the federal government 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.
However, paid family leave and paid sick days are required in a number of states, including California.
State Mandated Paid Family Leave Laws
A number of local and state laws have been passed in recent years providing employees with paid family leave and paid sick days. In states those states without their own paid sick leave laws, workers may have benefits under their employer’s policies.
California was the first state in the U.S. to create a paid family leave (PFL) program, which became effective in July 2004.
Since that time, other states including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, Washington D.C. and Connecticut have adopted similar PFL programs. In California, the City of San Francisco has an additional requirement for covered individuals who are receiving PFL benefits to use for child bonding purposes.
In California, effective beginning July 1, 2020, paid family leave will extend the total claim time frame from six weeks to eight weeks. paid family leave provides working Californians the ability to take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child.
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."
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 of Their Rights and Benefits
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, unused paid sick leave (which can be limited to 24 hours per year).
Stay Safe, Stay Informed and Stay Compliant
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.