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Common FAQs for California’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

By now you have probably read our Guide to California’s new paid sick leave law made obligatory upon all employers employing California employees for longer than 30 days.  Below is a more detailed question/answer FAQ that addresses more specific and complex issues and circumstances:

  • When can Employees Begin using Sick Leave? Employees must have been employed for 90 days before they can begin using their accrued sick leave, even though they actually begin accruing the leave itself at the commencement of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.
  • How Does Sick Leave Accrue? Employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • Does an Entire Day of Sick Leave Have to be Used? No. Employees may take sick leave in increments of two hours.
  • Do Temporary Employees Have to be Provided Sick Leave? Yes.  The law requires an employer to provide its own employees with 1 hour of accrued paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked regardless of whether the employer designates the employee as temporary, permanent, or another classification. Employers are not required to provide paid sick leave to temporary employees who are actually employed by another entity, such as a staffing agency.
  • What Can the Paid Sick Leave Be Used For? Employees may use the paid sick leave for the employee’s own health condition and for a family member’s health condition. In addition, employees may use the paid sick leave if they are a victim of domestic assault, sexual violence, and/or stalking. Under the law, family member includes the employee’s spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. Because grandparent, grandchild, and siblings are not family members under the California Family Rights Act, the legislation expands the types of family members for which an employee can take protected leave.
  • Does Sick Leave Carry Over Annually? Generally, yes. Under the new law, all unused sick leave that the employee accrued under the statute will carry over to the following year of employment. However, if an employer wants to avoid the administrative burden of tracking accruals and carryover, the statute permits employers to provide the full allotment of sick leave (3 work days/24 hours) at the beginning of each year.  Sick leave accruals may be capped at 48 hours (six workdays), and an employer can cap use of sick leave at 3 days per year of employment.
  • Can the Sick Leave be Capped? Yes. Employers may cap an employee’s total sick leave accrual at a maximum of 48 hours or 6 days.  Employers may limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days in each year of employment.
  • Must Paid Sick Leave be Cashed Out at the Employee’s Departure? No. However, under the new law, former employees who are rehired within one year regain their previously unused, accrued sick leave bank.
  • What’s the Penalty if an Employer Does not Comply? Employers that violate the law will face administrative fines. The law also authorizes the Labor Commissioner or the Attorney General to recover civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest against violating employers, as well as to reinstate employees.

AXIS Legal Counsel’s Business and Corporations Practice provides legal advice to numerous businesses with a variety of legal matters involving employees and labor law. We can assist in establishing compliance with California’s Employment and Wage & Hour laws, employee handbooks, leave policies, promotions, demotions, terminations, payroll matters, and other employment requirements.  AXIS offers full-service legal support to businesses and companies, and can also assist your company with business formations and governance, contracts, deals, and transactions, administration & operations, risk management / insurancelabor/employment matters, intellectual property, healthcare, crisis management, directors/officers, private/data security, technology, statutory/legal compliance, and business litigation.

For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent your business in connection with any legal matter, contact [email protected] or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation.