Sick Leave in California

sick leaveDo California seasonal employees accrue sick leave? Let’s say you are a seasonal employee, and you suddenly become ill. Should you show up to work anyway, and risk infecting others? That may seem like a better option than losing a day’s pay, or even your job, right?

The fact of the matter is, you do not have to make that choice if you work 30 hours a week or more. Paid sick leave (PSL) is available to temporary, seasonal, hourly, exempt, and nonexempt employees. California law requires employers to provide at least on hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. So, take the day off and stay home in bed where you belong! Your employer cannot ask you for a doctor’s note and cannot retaliate against you for using your PSL.  If your employer is not following the law, contact an experienced employment attorney.

What if I do Not Use My Sick Days?

On the other hand, let’s say you are super-healthy and never need to take time off.  What happens to your paid leave? Gone are the days of use-it-or-lose-it. California law allows you accumulate up to 48 hours of unused leave. Even if you can only earn 24 hours of leave each year, hours can be rolled over into the next year. The exception is if employers provide the hours in a lump sum at the beginning of the year. In that case, they are not required to allow a rollover.

Exemptions in the Law

There are, however, exceptions to the rule. Workers who are not entitled to sick leave under this law include:

  • Certain aviation employees, including cabin crew from particular airlines;
  • Home Support Service employees;
  • Construction employees;
  • Employees with a collective bargaining agreement who earn not less than 30% of the state minimum wage.

Compliance with the Law

Employers are required to do several things in order to remain in compliance with California law regarding sick leave mandates:

  • Provide a written copy of the sick leave policy;
  • Display a poster of the sick leave poster;
  • Provide a minimum of 24 hours of paid leave per eligible employee per year;
  • Calculate, track and report employee sick leave balances on pay stubs;
  • Keep sick leave records for at least three years.

Use PSL for Other Circumstances

Employees may use paid sick leave to care for sick family members, too. If your child, spouse, registered domestic partner, parent (or parent-in-law) grandparent, sibling, or grandchild is ill, you have paid time off to provide care. In fact, PSL may be used if you are a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.   [Read more…]

Paid Sick Leave, Breaks and Employer Responsibility

Paid Sick LeaveEmployees of all stripes have certain rights with regard to breaks and paid sick leave. When employers fail to provide the required breaks and/or leave, a knowledgeable employment attorney can help ensure you enjoy the benefits required by law.

Breaks During the Work Day

California labor law requires employers to provide an employee a meal period or rest period. A 2012 California Supreme Court ruling provided specificity to that law, ruling that employers are required to “…relieve employees of all duty, relinquish control over their activities, and permit them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break.”

The case involved Brinker Restaurant Corporation, Brinker International, Inc, and Brinker International Payroll Company, L.P. The claim was that Brinker either failed to provide breaks, or required employees to take “early lunching” followed by six to eight hours of shift work with no breaks. It resulted in Brinker paying out a $10 million settlement to employees who claimed to have suffered between 1999 and 2001.

While the court did require a work-free break be provided, it did not require employers to ensure that no work occurred during the break. In other words, if employees chose to work during a break it was not the employer’s responsibility to clamp down on that work.

Breaks must, however, allow for employees to leave the premises. Otherwise, the law does not consider it a legitimate break. The law provides for one hour’s pay at an employee’s regular wage for every missed off-duty break.

On the other hand, a voluntary agreement may be signed for on-duty meal breaks, provided the breaks are paid and the type of the work being done fits with criteria set out by the law. An employee may revoke this agreement at any time.

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

In 2014, lawmakers in California determined that many California workers had inadequate paid sick leave. Hence, legislation was enacted to provide workers with paid time off to deal with the health care needs of themselves and their families. The rationale was that when workers had paid time off when ill, they would recover more quickly and would be less likely to spread illness to fellow workers and/or the public.

As of 2014, California employers are required to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with no less than 24 hours of sick leave per year. Sick days may be used after 90 days of employment. The responsibility for enforcement of this law lies with the California labor Commissioner, who must investigate potential violations and impose fines on behalf of employers whose rights have been violated. [Read more…]

Amendments to California’s Sick Leave Law Are Passed

Amendments-to-California's-sick-leave-law-are-passedOn July 13, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law amendments to California’s sick leave law; the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The law (also known as Assembly Bill 1522) greatly increased the number of workers in California who are eligible for paid sick leave. The amendments make substantial changes to the law – many of which are favorable to California employers.

The amendments (which are contained in Assembly Bill No. 304) include the following changes to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act:

  • They add an important stipulation to a provision in the original law. The provision stated that employees who work in California for 30 or more days within a year of beginning their employment are entitled to paid sick days (at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked). The new amendments require that an employee do that work for the same employer in order to qualify for the accrued sick leave.
  • They allow an employer to provide for employee sick leave accrual on a basis other than one hour for each 30 hours worked – provided that the accrual is on a regular basis, and the employee will have 24 hours of accrued sick leave available by the 120th calendar day of employment.
  • They allow an employer to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment, or a calendar year, or a 12-month period.
  • They require employers to calculate paid sick leave based on an employee’s regular pay rate, or by the total wages divided by the total hours worked in a 90-day period, or the wages for other forms of paid leave.
  • They state that if an employee is rehired within one year of the end of their employment, then the employer is not required to reinstate the employee’s accrued paid time off, if the employee was paid off for their time when their employment ended.
  • They make a clarification regarding the original law’s rule that an employer is required under the original law to keep records for three years documenting an employee’s hours worked and paid sick days accrued. The amendments clarify that the employer is not obligated to inquire into (or record) the purposes for which an employee uses sick leave or paid time off.
  • They allow some employers who provided paid sick leave or paid time off to employers prior to January 1, 2015 to keep their old policies, so long as they make available an amount of leave applicable to employees that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as specified in this section.

Can This Affect Your Business?

If you have concerns about what these amendments mean for your company’s policies, or you are considering making a change to your policies based on the passage of the amendments, it is highly advisable that you speak to an attorney. The employment and labor law attorneys at Beck Law P.C. in Santa Rosa are available for consultation. You can call or email their office today.

What Does The California Paid Sick Leave Law Do?

california flagWhat does the California paid sick leave law do? Our California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law recently the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, which mandates paid sick leave for California employees. According to the governor’s office, nearly 6.5 million people – 40% of California’s workforce  – had no paid sick leave benefits prior to the passage of this law.

California Paid Sick Leave Law

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, which takes effect in July 2015, mandates the following in California:

  • part-time and full-time employees can receive up to 3 paid sick days per year; employers may allow more paid time off at their discretion
  • workers accrue 1 hour of paid sick time off for every 30 hours worked
  • workers may use accrued time after 90 days of employment
  • sick days may be used to care for an ill family member

The law does not apply to certain employees who are part of collective bargaining agreements, airline flight crews or in-home healthcare workers. Employers will be required to post signs in the workplace informing employees of paid sick leave laws. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who request paid sick leave and face fines of up to $4,000 a day for refusing to allow employees to take paid sick time as allowed under the new law.

Paid Sick Leave Trending

San Francisco County has had mandatory paid sick leave in place since 2006. California is now the second state in the nation to pass paid sick leave laws. Connecticut enacted a paid sick leave law in 2011. Various localities such as the District of Columbia and New York City have also enacted laws mandating paid sick leave for certain employees. Approximately twenty other states have proposed legislation involving paid sick leave. There is no federal law guaranteeing paid sick leave for employees.

Not Without Controversy

While Governor Brown said of California’s new paid sick leave law, “Whether you’re a dishwasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family’s health and your job”, the law is not without its critics.

Business owners, especially small business owners, have expressed their concern over the additional costs that their businesses will have to bear once the new law goes into effect. California also recently increased the state’s minimum wage. Another increase in minimum wage is scheduled to take effect in January 2016.

Employers will also incur the administrative costs involved with keeping track of accrued paid sick leave, as well as the productivity costs involved with having workers call in sick.

Experienced Employment Attorneys

In light of the passage of the paid sick leave law in California, employers may consider updating their handbooks, trainings and other policies. Beck Law P.C. has years of experience advising employers on how to remain compliant with various laws, including wage and hour laws, paid time off and other issues. Please contact us to discuss your business’s needs.


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.