Although the new law is not effective until July 1, 2015, employers in California will need to begin carefully reviewing any sick leave or paid time off policies, as well as payroll and wage statement practices regarding such time off. The law also requires changes to the employer’s new-hire employee notice, a different workplace-posting requirement, and recordkeeping mandates.
Employees should understand the new law requires the following:
Employees who work 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of their employment are now entitled to accrue paid sick days at a rate of “no less than one  hour for every 30 hours worked.” This includes temporary, part-time, and seasonal employees who work 30 or more days within a year from the date they are first hired. This means that a full-time employee who works 40 hours per week would be entitled to accrue up to 8.6 days of paid sick time off per year. The total number of accrued sick days will depend on the number of hours per week that an employee is normally scheduled to work.
An employee is entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who requests paid sick days.
Employers may choose to limit the employee’s annual use of paid sick leave benefits to 24 hours or 3 days per year. Similarly, the employer may choose to limit the annual amount of accrued paid sick leave to 48 hours or 6 days per year. In other words, although a full-time employee working 40 hours per week can accrue up to 8.6 paid sick days, the employer may cap the amount of paid sick benefits used to 24 hours or 3 days and limit the overall annual accrual amount to 48 hours or 6 days.
The rate of pay for paid sick leave is the employee’s regular hourly wage (which includes commission or piece rate pay), and employers must pay out sick leave benefit payments to employees no later than the payday for the next payroll period after the sick leave was taken.
Employers are required to provide written notice on the designated pay dates that sets forth the amount of paid sick leave benefits available to the employee. This notice may be given to the employee on either the itemized wage statement or a separate written document.
Employees may use paid sick time for themselves or a family member, for preventive care, diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition, or if the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Family member include child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling.
Employers are not required to pay out accrued but unused sick days when an employee terminates employment, as is required for accrued vacation time.
The law contains various exclusions, and has specific provisions that apply where an employer already provides paid time off.
If an employer already has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy, the employer is not required to provide additional paid sick days if the leave can be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions and satisfied the accrual, carry over and use requirements.
There is no exemption for small employers or government employers. The paid sick leave requirements apply for small employers with only one or two employees. However, paid sick leave is not required for employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).
If after a hearing, that an employer has violated the paid sick leave requirements, it allows the Labor Commissioner to enforce the law by ordering any of the following: reinstatement, back pay, and payment for sick days unlawfully withheld, plus payment of an administrative penalty to an employee of the greater of: three time the dollar value of the paid sick days withheld, or $250, to a maximum of $4,000.