Employers must provide sick days to employees
It’s hard running a business. It’s even harder running a business in California. Let’s be honest, being an employee is no picnic either. No one wants to work next to someone who is sick, but for many employees the opportunity to take a paid day off is just a luxury that is not provided. In an effort to combat this the California Legislature enacted a Healthy Workplaces act. Beginning July 1, 2015, employees who work in California for 30 days or more within a year will accrue sick pay thanks to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (the Act). The Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September of 2014, applies to employers regardless of size, with only a few categories of employees ineligible for leave.
Under the law, employees accrue sick pay at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked and may begin using accrued paid sick days on their 90th day of employment. For example, an individual hired on July 1, 2015, would begin accruing sick leave on July 31, 2015, and be entitled to use that leave as of September 29, 2015.
While the employee determines how much paid sick leave he or she needs, the law does require the employee to provide “reasonable” advance notification when leave is foreseeable and notice “as soon as practicable” when it is unforeseeable. Employers can set a reasonable minimum increment for the use of paid sick leave, but the designated increment cannot exceed two hours. As you can imagine, the law prohibits discrimination and retaliation against employees for using accrued sick days. Further, the Labor Commissioner may award reinstatement, back pay, payment for sick days withheld and payment of an administrative penalty for violations by a offending business.
Generally, employers that already provide paid sick leave (or paid time off), need not provide “additional” paid sick days where the existing policy (i) satisfies the new law’s accrual, carryover and use requirements; or (ii) provides at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave for each year of employment.
Similar to vacation days, accrued sick days carry over to the following year of employment. An employer may, however, cap paid sick leave at 24 hours or three days in each year of employment. However, an employer may limit the accrual to 48 hours or six days. The enactment of this law is fast approaching, and given the many nuances of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, employers should review their policies and procedures before the law takes effect to ensure that the individuals responsible for administering these policies understand these new employer obligations and confirm they are complying with the various notice and posting requirements.
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