California Paid Sick Leave: A Dose of Reality

The absence of a policy can cost you big time.  Under California’s mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law, employers are required to provide Paid Sick Leave to all employees.  The law allows companies to limit the amount of paid sick leave to 3 days or 24 hours per year, however you must announce the limitations to employees in writing before applying the policy. If you don’t have a Paid Sick Leave policy written down and distributed to employees, your company is required to use the mandated accrual rate of one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked. This could result in a full-time employee accruing over 70 hours of paid sick leave per year and allow them to carry that balance over into the next year. For employees that work 40 hours a week that equals 8-9 days per year of paid sick leave.  For an employee that works overtime beyond the 40 hours, it could be even more.

This may sound a bit overwhelming to an employer, however there are options available for your policy. It has been over a year now since the paid sick leave benefit in California took effect. As a California employer, you have the option of choosing different ways to provide the required paid sick leave benefit to your employees, but you will be required to inform all employees of your policy and it must be in writing. It’s a good idea to create and distribute to your employees a written policy that shows you’re in compliance with the new mandatory paid sick leave law in order to avoid any confusion.

Some commonly asked questions regarding California’s Paid Sick Leave Law

What if my Company has its own Paid Time-off (PTO) plan?

The law created a minimum requirement for paid sick leave, but an employer may provide sick leave through its own existing sick leave or paid time off plan. Each plan however, must satisfy the accrual, carryover, and use requirements of the new law.

Using the Accrual Method, is unused sick leave carried over into the next year?

Yes, however an employer can limit or cap the overall amount of sick leave an employee is allowed to accrue, as long as the carryover limit is at least 24 hours.

Does Unlimited time off comply with the new Law?

Most employers that offer unlimited time off do not track how much time employees are taking off or the reason.  The new law does require employers separately track sick leave accrual and use.  Therefore, employers that offer unlimited time off plans must indicate the paid sick leave is in fact unlimited as well.

What can sick leave be used for?

Paid sick leave can be used for an employee or their family member for preventative care, diagnosis, treatment of existing health problems, or for victims of domestic violence, sexual assaults or stalking. (Family members include employee’s parents, children, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings. Preventive Care includes annual exams, physicals, and flu shots.)

Employers can require that their employees to take a minimum of at least two hours of paid sick leave at a time.

Any Questions? We Can Help!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Paid Sick Leave, feel free to contact us any time at (714) 467-3434 and we’ll be happy to help. We can help keep you in compliance with our Sample Paid Sick Leave (PSL) Policy or connect you with HR help to help your company avoid penalties. Give us a call or visit our website!



About the Author: