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California Paid Sick Leave- What’s new in 2015


General Summary – Starting July 1, 2015, all California employers, regardless of size, are required to provide paid sick leave for any employee (part-time, full-time, exempt and non-exempt) who works in California for 30 or more days within a year.[1] The new law does not interfere with employer practices that are more generous to employees, but does contain numerous detailed parameters, which set the minimum requirements for employers.

Additional information can be found at:

Accrual Options – There are 2 methods that employers can utilize to calculate paid sick leave. Employers should select one accrual option to use for all employees.
Accrual – Employees accrue 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. Under this method, employees may use accrued leave after 90 days of employment.
Lump Sum – Employees are given an up-front lump sum of 3 days (24 hours for employees who work 8 hour days, 30 hours for employees who work 10 hour days) at the beginning of the year. Under this method, accrued leave is available for use at the beginning of the year.

Limitations on Employee Usage and Accrual Usage Cap – Employers may cap usage by an employee at 3 days per year (24 hours for employees who work 8 hour days, 30 hours for employees who work 10 hour days). The year can be defined as a calendar year, rolling 12 month period, or 12 month period based on employee’s anniversary date.

Minimum Usage – For partial days, employers can require employees to take at least 2 hours of leave, but otherwise the determination of how much time is needed is left to the employee.

Reasons for Use – Employees can use the paid sick leave for preventive care or care for an existing health condition of the employee or his/her family member, or for specified purposes if the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Family Members – Defined to include the employee’s biological, adopted, foster or step child, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis; 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; a spouse; a registered domestic partner; a grandparent; a grandchild; or a sibling.

Preventive Care – Defined to include annual physicals or flu shots.

Doctor’s Notes – The law does not speak to whether an employer can request verification from a doctor regarding the need to take sick leave. On the other hand, the law does state that an employee can request sick leave orally or in writing and that the employee is permitted to determine how much sick leave s/he needs. For now, since the law prohibits employers from denying an employee the right to use sick leave and from retaliating against employees from taking sick leave, you should be cautious about asking for a doctor’s note.

Employee Notice – Employers must permit employees to use the paid sick leave upon an oral or written request, and the law forbids requiring an employee to find a replacement as a condition for using leave. If the need is foreseeable the employee must give reasonable advance notice, but where the need is unforeseeable the employee need only give notice as soon as practicable.

Prohibition Against Adverse Action by Employer – Employers are prohibited from denying an employee the right to use accrued sick days, and from discharging, threatening to discharge, demoting, suspending, or in any other manner discriminating against an employee for using or attempting to use accrued sick days.

Accrual – Employers may cap the total accrual of paid sick leave at 6 days (48 hours for employees who work 8 hour days, 60 hours for employees who work 10 hour days). If an employee separates and is rehired within 1 year of separation, all previously accrued and unused paid sick leave must be reinstated and the employee is entitled to accrue additional leave upon rehiring, up to the cap established by the employer.

Carry Over of Accrued and Unused Hours – Accrued and unused sick leave carries over annually, up to the cap of 6 days (48 hours for employees who work 8 hour days, 60 hours for employees who work 10 hour days), unless the employer establishes a higher cap.

Payment for Sick Leave
Rate – Payment for paid sick leave is calculated at the employee’s regular hourly rate of pay at the time the sick leave is used.
No Payment at Separation – Employers are not required to provide compensation to an employee for accrued and unused sick leave when an employee separates, regardless of the reason for separation.

Employer Notice Requirements With Paychecks – Employers must include a sick leave tally on each employee pay stub, or in a separate writing that is given to each employee on each pay day.

Posting – Employers are required to post the DLSE’s form notice, which can be found at:
Labor Code § 2810.5 Notice – Employers are required to provide the revised Labor Code § 2810.5 notice to each employee hired after January 1, 2015[2], which contains information regarding paid sick leave. For existing employees, this Notice should be provided by July 8, 2015 to reflect the entitlement to sick leave. The notice can be found at:

Additional Recommendations
Revise and Distribute Sick Leave Policy – To the extent that an employer’s sick leave policy is required to be modified to comply with the new law, employers should update the policy and distribute the policy to all employees on or before July 1, 2015.

Update Handbook – If the employer’s handbook contains information about its sick leave policy, the contents should be revised to the extent that the policy is required to be modified to comply with the new law.

[1] There are limited exceptions for certain unionized employees, employees who work on aircrafts and IHSS workers.
[2] Employers must provide the notice at the time of hire, and to notify employees of any changes to the information set forth in the notice within 7 calendar days after the time of the changes, unless 1 of the following applies: (1) All changes are reflected on a timely wage statement furnished in accordance with Labor Code § 226; or (2) Notice of all changes is provided in another writing required by law within 7 days of the changes.
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