New Paid Sick Leave Requirements for California Employers

How the New Requirements Work. Starting July 1, 2015, any employee who works at least 30 hours in a year and satisfies a 90-day employment period qualifies for paid sick leave. Sick time starts accruing on the first day of employment (or July 1, 2015 for current employees), but can’t be used until the 90-day “probationary” period is completed.

Employees earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employers must allow the employee to take at least 24 hours (3 days) per year. Unused time carries over from year to year, though the employer may cap the total accrual at 48 hours.

Note that, because of the delayed start (laws usually take effect on January 1), the qualification period for employees starts on January 1 even though the right to take paid sick leave doesn’t start until July 1.

As with most new laws, this raises a lot of questions. For example (courtesy of the California Department of Industrial Relations):

Does paid sick leave apply to all employees who work in California?

An employee who works at least 30 days within a year in California, including part-time, per diem, and temporary employees, are covered by this new law with some specific exceptions.

What if I am employed by a staffing agency?

Temporary employees of a staffing agency are covered by the new law. Therefore, whoever is the employer or joint employer is required to provide paid sick leave to qualifying employees.

How is the year measured?

Because paid sick leave accrues beginning on July 1, 2015 or the first day of employment if hired after July 1, 2015, the 12 month period will vary by hire date for those employees hired after July 1, 2015. Therefore, the measurement will mostly be tracked by the employee’s anniversary date.

My employer provides paid time off which I can use for vacation or illness. Will my employer have to provide additional sick leave?

No, as long as your employer provides at least 24 hours per year of paid leave that can be used for health care and meets other requirements in the law.

My company offers unlimited time off. How does the new law affect me?

Most employers with this new but growing policy do not track how much time employees take off or for what reason. However, the new law requires that employers separately track sick leave accrual and use.

There are many details of this new law. Although many employers will find that their existing policies meet the minimum requirements, you should review those requirements to be certain.

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