As of July 1, 2015, employers in the state of California will be legally obligated to provide paid sick leave to all employees who work 30 or more days in a year. This is great news for the 6.5 million Californian employees who are currently unable to take paid time off should they, or someone in their care, become sick - employers are unlikely to be quite so pleased.
California Sick Leave Law: What this means for employers
Bar a limited number of exclusions, California sick leave law means that employees who work more than 30 days within a year will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. This equals approximately 8.7 days for a full time employee; however employers may limit paid sick leave to a maximum of 24 hours (approx. 3 days) in a year.
New employees will begin accruing sick pay from the date their employment commences; however California sick leave law will state that employees are unable to use their accrued sick leave until they have been employed for 90 consecutive days.
Should an employee leave their position (regardless of the circumstances involved), they will not be entitled to compensation for unused sick pay. However should an employee be rehired within a year of terminating their employment, they will be entitled to use previously accrued leave.
Exclusions to California sick leave law
A limited number of employees (and employers) will be unaffected by the California sick leave law. These are:
- Employees who are, in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement, already entitled to sick pay that meets or exceeds the allowance set by the California sick leave law.
- Employees within the construction industry who, as part of a collective bargaining agreement, are entitled to premium wage rates for all overtime worked, and to regular hourly pay of at least 30 percent more than the Californian minimum wage.
- Providers of in-home care or support services.
- In flight deck or cabin crew employees (so long that the employee is provided with compensation for time off that is equal to or exceeds that required by the California sick leave law).
California Sick Leave Law: Rates of pay
California sick leave law will state that employees who are paid hourly must be paid sick leave in accordance with their standard rate of pay.
If an employee is paid in accordance with a fluctuating rate of pay (i.e. commission or piece work), their rate of pay for sick leave is determined by dividing the employee's total earnings from the 90 days previous to a sick day, by the total number of hours worked in that same period (excluding overtime premiums).
California Sick Leave Law: Use of sick leave
Employees are permitted not only to use paid sick leave should they themselves fall ill, but if a family member falls ill too. California sick leave law also states that an employee may use accrued sick leave should they be a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking.
The law also states that if an employee is able to predict the need to use sick leave (for example, in anticipation of a hospital stay), the employee must provide 'reasonable' advance notice to their employer.
Additionally, paid sick leave does not need to be used in whole day blocks - the employer may set a minimum increment, which should be no less than two hours.
The above is just an overview of the California sick leave law - we advise that, ahead of implementation, employers familiarise themselves with the full set of conditions set out by the law, which you can find here.