EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2015: UPDATE TO CALIFORNIA SICK LEAVE REQUIREMENTS

Effective July 1, 2015, employers in California will be required to provide all employees (full-time, part-time and temporary) who, on or after July 1, 2015, work in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of employment, paid sick leave. Employees will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, or in other words 3 days of paid sick leave per year.  Employees can use the leave for themselves or a family member.  “Family member” is defined by the law to include children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, spouse and registered domestic partner. Accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.  An employer has two options in terms of accrual and provision of leave; 1) If the employer’s policy is to provide sick leave only as it accrues, employers must allow the employee to carry over any unused sick leave to the next year if unused.  Employer can limit accrual to a total of 6 days.  Employers can still (regardless of their policy when sick leave is awarded) limit use of paid sick leave to 3 days in a year.; or 2) If the employer provides the sick leave upfront at the beginning of the year before it accrues, the employer does not have to allow the employee to carry over unused time to the next year.

If the employer’s policy already provides for sick leave or contains a PTO policy that provides for an amount of paid leave (no less than 3 days) that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions (including accrual, carry over and use requirements) of the new law, an employer need not provide additional paid sick leave.

Employees must be paid at their standard rate of pay for sick leave used.  If the employee earns commissions or bonuses, those items must be factored into the sick leave payment.

There are several things employers must do to comply with the new law including:

1) Separately track sick leave accrual and use.  This must be on a pay stub or a document issued the same day as a paycheck.  Also, employers must keep records showing how many hours have been earned and used for a period of three years.

2) Display poster on paid sick leave where employees can easily read it. -

3) Provide written notice to employees with sick leave rights at the time of hire.  A new form of the notice required by Labor Code Section 2810.5 (the “Wage Theft Protection Act”) needs to be given to employees, advising them of their rights under the new law.

As a best practice, all employers should allow eligible employees to use accrued paid sick leave upon reasonable request.  Also, employers need not do not pay an employee at termination for sick leave pay that was not used, but keep in mind if an employer’s policy grants vacation time, or PTO, that accrued time most likely will be subject to payout under California law.

For more information on the new California law, employer vacation/sick/PTO policies or any other employment law related matters, please contact Dana Perminas at 312-334-3474 or dperminas@messerstrickler.com for more information.