Paid Sick Leave in California

From the California Employers Association:


The Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522) was signed into law in 2014.
The basic intent of the law is to provide all employees with at least three days or 24 hours of paid sick leave each year.

What does this mean for you as an employer?
Effective January 1, 2015 ALL employers must post a Paid Sick Leave Notice in their place of business. Effective July 1, 2015, ALL employers, both public and private, will be required to provide paid sick leave to all of their employees, with a few exceptions (unionized workers, home health care providers and airline flight crews).

Employers are not required to pay out accrued sick time at termination.

What does AB 1522 mean for employees?
Under AB 1522, ALL employees who work in California for 30 or more days in a calendar year will earn paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked! This accrual method begins as of 7/1/15 and employees must be allowed to use any accrued time after 90 days of employment. (Former employees that are re-hired within one year are entitled to have previously accrued and unused paid sick days be reinstated.)

Employers will be allowed to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to three (3) days per year and can cap accrual of paid sick leave at six days.

Another option to the accrual method described above is to give employees all of their paid sick leave up front. This has been called “front loading”, “the lump sum method”, or “granted leave”. In each case, employers are permitted to grant three or more days of paid sick leave at the start of the year to their employees to avoid the administrative burdens of tracking accrual and carry over.

When can employees use AB 1522?
Employees can use AB 1522 to take paid leave for themselves or a family member for preventive care or care of an existing health condition or for specified purposes if they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Family members include the employee’s parent, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. Preventive care would include annual physicals or flu shots. For partial days employers can require leave be taken in two hours increments, but otherwise the determination of how much time is needed is left to the employee.

Existing law already requires employers that provide paid sick time to allow employees to use half of their yearly allotment for “kin care” (care of their sick child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner). The new law does not repeal “kin care” but expands it to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

Employers with more generous plans will have to allow employees to use 1/2 of the annual sick leave entitlement for Kin Care.

Posting, Notice and Record Keeping Requirements
In addition to accounting for and providing the accrued leave, employers are required to:

  • Display a Paid Sick Leave Poster as of 1/1/2015
  • Include the amount of paid sick leave accrued on employees~itemized wage statements
  • Retain all paid sick leave records for three years
  • Use the revised Wage Theft Prevention Act Notice on or before 7/1/15

What if I already provide paid sick leave for my employees?
California employers who already provide at least three days of paid sick time, will now have additional administrative requirements, including:

  • Recording an employee’s sick leave balance on itemized wage statements, or another writing, on each pay day.
  • Carry-over of accrued sick leave with the cap of six days.
  • Documentation showing hours worked as well as paid sick days accrued and used by an employee.
  • Rate of Pay

Employees should be paid their regular rate of pay for sick leave. However, if your employee is paid different hourly rates, is paid a commission, is paid by piece rate or flag rate, etc. then you must “Divide employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay period of the prior 90 days of employment” to determine an hourly rate to be paid for sick leave.

Where to find help

California Employers Association is here to assist you in navigating this new law. We have webinars dedicated to this topic in December, February and again in June. We can assist you in developing a Paid Sick Leave Policy that fits your company’s needs. By July 1, 2015 you will be informed and ready to address this new law with your employees and in your employee handbook.

Recommendation and Source Information
Don’t change your policy or create a new one just yet! This bill was just passed and there are still many unanswered questions. A list of frequently asked questions was released the first week of December, and we anticipate there will be more to come. For now, get informed, ask questions and watch for our updates.

Paid Sick Leave FAQ’s
Paid Sick Leave Poster
Updated WageTheft Notice

Webinars (click to register)

Thursday, December 11th – noon to 1:00 pm
Wednesday, December 17th – noon to 1:00 pm
Wednesday, February 4th – noon to 1:00 pm
Wednesday, June 10th – noon to 1:00 pm