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California’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

January 26, 2015

Recently the California Legislature enacted Assembly Bill 1522, the Healthy Workplaces, and Healthy Families Act of 2014 which now requires employers in California to provide paid sick leave to almost all California employees. The law became effective January 1, 2015, so California employers should review their sick leave or paid time off (PTO) policies immediately and modify as needed to ensure compliance.

Under the new law, most employees who do not currently receive paid sick leave will now be eligible for sick leave. Beginning July 1, 2015, employees who work in California for 30 days or more within a year will accrue sick leave they may begin using after their 90th day of employment. Employees will be entitled to use accrued sick leave for a variety of reasons, including: the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition of, or prevention care for, an employee or an employee’s family member. For the purposes of this law the phrase “family member” refers to a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. An employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking is also entitled to use sick leave.

For employers who already provide paid sick leave for their employees, the law will probably not provide employees with additional leave. However employers may face additional restrictions that now apply to the first 12-month period regarding the first 3 days or 24 hours accrued.

In order to implement the provisions of the law, employers will be required to keep records pertaining to paid sick leave for at least three years, including hours worked, accrual and utilization of paid sick leave. Failure to maintain adequate records will result in a presumption that the employee is entitled to the maximum number of accruable hours, unless the employer can prove otherwise.

As California is implementing their new paid sick leave law, President Obama is looking to take similar action to help all states adopt paid sick leave, which would support the 43 million workers who currently have no paid sick leave.