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Labor & Employment News: Paid Sick Leave for All California Employees

Posted By Robert E. Nuddleman, Thursday, February 19, 2015

Originally posted on SCCBA Labor & Employment Section Blog 

by Robert E. Nuddleman 
Phillip J. Griego & Associates

On or after July 1, 2015, all employees (including part-time and temporary employees) earn paid time off for:

  1.  The Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for an employee or an employee’s family member or
  2. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to obtain restraining, to seek medical attention, to obtain services of a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center, to obtain psychological counseling, to participate in safety planning or to find temporary or permanent housing.

“Family Member” includes:

  1. A biological child, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis regardless of age or dependency status.
  2. A biological, adoptive, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child.
  3. A spouse.
  4. A registered domestic partner.
  5. A grandparent.
  6. A grandchild.
  7. A sibling.

Paid leave is earned according to the following terms and conditions:

  • The employee must work more than 30 days within a year of the commencement of employment or within a year of July 1, 2015, whichever is later.
  • The employee can earn up to 24 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year.
  • The employee accrues paid sick days at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked. If the employee is an exempt employee, he or she accrues sick days based on their normal weekly work schedule or 40 hours per week, whichever is less.
  • An employee can use accrued paid sick days after 90 days of employment.
  • An employer can limit the use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment.
  • Accrued paid sick days carry over to the following year of employment. However, the employer can impose a maximum cap of 48 hours or 6 days until sick leave is used.
  • An employer is not required to pay an employee for accrued, unused paid sick days upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment. However, if rehired within one year of the date of separation, the employer must reinstate previously accrued and unused paid sick days.
  • The employer can require the employee to use paid sick leave in minimum increments of no more than two hours.
  • The rate of pay is the employee’s hourly wage at the time of the leave. If in the 90 days before taking accrued paid sick leave the employee had different hourly pay rates, was paid by commission or piece rate, or was a nonexempt salaried employee, then the rate of pay will be calculated by dividing total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.
  • The employee must provide reasonable advance notice if the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable. If the need for paid sick leave is unforeseeable, the employee must provide notice of the need for the leave as soon as practicable.
  • The employee must receive payment for sick leave no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the sick leave was taken.
  • An employer cannot require the employee to find a replacement to cover the days during which the employee uses paid sick days.
  • An employer need not provide paid sick leave if it has a PTO policy that meets the minimum conditions and grants the same leave for the same purposes as this paid sick leave law.
  • The employee must receive written notice of accrued paid sick leave (or PTO an employer provides in lieu of paid sick leave) on an itemized wage statement or in a separate written notice provided to the employee with his or her wage statement.
  • The state can sue an employer for violations of the new law, seeking reinstatement, back pay, costs, attorneys’ fees, and penalties of up to $4,000 per employee per day.  Aggrieved employees can also sue the employer under the statute and on behalf of other “aggrieved employees” pursuant to the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”)
  • Penalties include:
    • (1) the dollar amount of paid sick days withheld multiplied by three, or two hundred fifty dollars ($250), whichever amount is greater, not to exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000 and
    • (2) fifty dollars ($50) for each day the violation occurred or continued, not to exceed thousand dollars ($4,000).
  • The Labor Commissioner may file of a civil action to enforce its order and the employer may be ordered to pay to the state fifty dollars ($50) for each day or portion of a day a violation occurs or continues for each aggrieved employee.
  • In an administrative or civil action brought under this article, the Labor Commissioner or court, as the case may be, will award interest on all amounts due and unpaid.

Now is the time to prepare for this new law and to learn these new rights so that employees and employers alike will be informed come July 1st.



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