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Beginning in July 2015, California Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave To Employees

This week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the "Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014" (see here).

The Act, effective July 1, 2015, requires California employers to provide employees at least 3 days of paid sick leave per year, with "paid sick days" defined as "time that is compensated at the same wage as the employee normally earns during regular work hours." This requirement applies to any employee who works 30 or more days a year, except that accrual of paid sick leave need not begin until the employee's 90th day of employment. Certain workers are excluded from coverage under the Act, such as those with applicable collective bargaining agreements, or providers of "in-home supportive services."

Under the Act, upon the oral or written request of an employee, an employer must provide paid sick days for (1) diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, an employee or an employee's family member; and (2) for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

The Act requires that an employee accrue paid sick days at the rate of at least one accrued hour for every 30 hours worked. For employees "exempt" from overtime under California law, their workweek is considered 40 hours for purposes of the Act.

Accrued paid sick days carry over from year to year, but an employer may limit an employee's use of paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days per year, and can limit an employee's total accrual of paid sick leave to 48 hours or 6 days.

Employers are required, "in each workplace of the employer," to "display a poster in a conspicuous place" stating that (1) an employee is entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick days, (2) the amount of sick days provided for by the Act, and (3) the terms of use for paid sick days. The employee's itemized wage statement (or other comparable writing) must also set forth the amount of paid sick leave available to the employee.

The employer is not required to "cash out" the employee's accrued, unused paid sick days if an employee is terminated, resigns, retires, or otherwise separates from employment with the employer. However, if an employee is then rehired by the employer within 1 year from the separation date, any previously accrued and unused paid sick days must be reinstated to the employee.

An employer "is not required to provide additional paid sick days" if its existing paid leave policy or paid time off policy satisfies the requirements of the Act. Therefore, employers with existing paid leave or paid time off policies should have them reviewed.

If you have any questions about this new law, or any other employment and labor law questions your company may be facing, please feel free to contact us.

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