California Labor and Employment Defense Blog

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Required Under Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014

Under the newly signed Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, California employers will be required to provide paid sick leave to all employees.  The statute includes a quite detailed scheme with which employers will need to begin complying on July 1, 2015.

Duty to Provide Paid Leave

  • Eligible employees must work 30 days or more during the year, and may begin using accrued sick time after 90 days of employment
  • Paid sick leave accrues at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked for hourly-non-exempt employees.  Salaried-exempt employees will generally accrue paid sick time based on an assumed 40-hour workweek.  
  • Employers however may limit the amount of accrued sick leave to 3 days/24 hours per year (or the amount accrued by an employee working 720 or more hours).
  • Accrued but unused sick time carries over from year-to-year, but may be capped at 6 days.
  • Accrued but unused sick time need not be paid out at termination of employment, but must be reinstated if the employee is rehired within 12 months.

Using Paid Sick Leave

  • "An employee may determine how much paid sick leave he or she needs to use"
  • However, the employer may require the leave be used in minimum increments of up to two hours
  • The employee should shall provide "reasonable advance notice" if the need for the leave is forseeable.

Taking Sick Leave as a Protected Status

  •  An employer can take no adverse action against an imployee including "deny[ing] an employee the right to use accrued sick days" for the protected conduct of, inter alia, "using accrued sick days," "attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick days," or for reporting or opposing alleged violations of the sick leave law.
  • Any adverse employment action within 30 days of reporting or opposing an alleged violation creates "a rebutable presumption of unlawful retaliation.   

Duty to Record and Report Accrued Paid Leave

  • The amount of available paid sick leave or PTO must be included on employee pay statements.
  •  The right to paid sick leave must be included in the employer's Labor Rights' poster and the disclosures of employment terms to new employees required by Labor Code section 2810.5.

Enforcement and Remedies

  • "The Labor Commissioner shall enforce this article." (However, a private enforcement action would also presumably be authorized under PAGA as well).
  • Remedies include reinstatement, back pay, and payment of withheld sick days
  • A penalty under which the dollar amount of withheld sick days shall be the greater of treble damages or $250 per day up to an aggregate amount of $4,000  


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