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Ready for paid sick leave in California?

March 22, 2015

sickHello, California employers! Are you ready for paid sick leave? Better get working!

The California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (AB 1522) goes live July 1, 2015. (Actually, it’s already gone live with respect to some elements, more on that later.) The law requires employers to provide California employees with at least three paid sick days per year. There is no small employer threshold — the new law applies to virtually all non-union businesses with a single employee. Employees must accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, beginning the later of July 1, 2015 or the employee’s 30th day of work. However, an employer can limit the use of sick leave to 3 days or 24 hours per year.

The law provides a few options for employers to comply:

  1. They can provide six hours of paid sick leave to employees in a lump sum at the beginning of the year.
  2. Employees can accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked. Employers who choose this option, however, must permit employees to accrue up to six days, or 48 hours, of paid sick leave (although use of sick leave can still be limited to 3 days/24 hours per year).
  3. Finally, employers can establish a PTO policy that provides benefits equivalent to or greater than those required by the law.

Employees who accrue sick leave pursuant to options 1 and 3 are entitled to carry over unused time to the following year. However, unless otherwise provided in an employer’s policies, employees are not entitled to payment for accrued but unused sick time upon termination.

Employers must also notify employees of the new law, through a workplace poster and an individual notification to employees hired before January 1, 2015, and to all subsequently hired employees within 7 days of their hire date (or any change in paid sick leave policy). You can find samples provided by the state Department of Labor here and here. The notice requirement became effective January 1, 2015 — so if you haven’t changed your poster or notified your employees, it’s time to get to work.

Don’t get stuck behind the 8-ball when the full law comes into effect on July 1, 2015. Contact your lawyer or HR specialist soon to make sure you’re not on the receiving end of a not-so-friendly notice from the Labor Commissioner.

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