California Sick Leave Law and paid sick leave requirements can be a a challenge for California employers. It is crucial, however, to ensure you're in compliance.
[This post has been updated from the original post from December 2016]
Since July 1, 2015 California's so-called Paid Sick Leave law, or the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522), has significantly impacted California employers. For many smaller employers especially, the challenge has been in implementing all the required processes and posted notices, issuing forms, and verifying compliance with the law.
Not too surprisingly, some California employers are still working through their old sick leave policies and struggling to establish full compliance with the mandates of AB 1522.
Have Your Employees Been Fully Informed?
Beginning on January 1, 2015, employers were required to post 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.
Also, employers are required to provide most employees 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.
The Law Applies to Most Every Business and Employer
Unlike a number of other labor laws that exclude small businesses under a certain number of workers, the paid sick leave laws do not. According to an article from CalChamber Advocacy,
Even though the paid sick leave law received a lot of press, some businesses still seem surprised about the new law, perhaps thinking it does not apply to them.
Unlike other leave laws, such as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), there is no size requirement before the PSL law applies to a company. The law applies to all employers, big and small.
Moreover, PSL must be provided to all types of employees: part-time, hourly, temporary, seasonal, exempt and nonexempt. Any employee who has worked in California for the same employer for 30 or more days within one year from the beginning of his/her employment will be entitled to PSL.
Even the most diligent employers and organizations can be tripped up by the requirements of the law. Here is a graphic, courtesy of CalChamber, that illustrates some of the highlights of the Paid Sick Leave law:
Don't Let Your Attendance Policies Interfere with Paid-Sick-Leave Requirements
In a recent update to their FAQ page, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) addressed the question whether an employer can discipline a worker for taking a paid sick day or for using paid sick leave for part of a day to go to a doctor's appointment?
The DLSE’s response was as follows:
"In general, no, an employer may not discipline an employee for using accrued paid sick leave. Depending on the circumstances, however, the issue may be more complex and may require more analysis."
The paid sick leave law specifically says the following:
"An employer shall not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days, attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick days, filing a complaint with the department or alleging a violation of this article, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article, or opposing any policy or practice or act that is prohibited by this article." (Lab. Code § 246.5, subd. (c)(1).)
The agency concludes: "This means, in general terms, that if an employee has accrued sick days available, an employer may not deny the employee the right to use those accrued paid sick days, including the right to use paid sick leave for a partial day (e.g., to attend a doctor's appointment), and may not discipline the employee for doing so."
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.