Sick Pay Mandate Imposed on Employers in California

July 9, 20158:20 am333 views

California to offer sick pay to nearly every category of employee beginning July 1, 2015 according to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA). According to this new rule, employers are required to provide sick pay at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked or a lump sum allocation of three days or 24 hours per year.

The rate of paid sick leave shall be the employee’s hourly wage.  Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per week. The paid sick leave mandate is to help employees care for themselves or their families in case of sickness. The employer must provide the paid sick leave on oral or written request of an employee, primarily for treatment or care of an existing health condition or preventive care. This rule is applicable to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

CBPA states, “An employer cannot deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, or to take retaliatory action.  The new law does allow existing employer policies that meet or exceed the new mandate to remain in place.”

The allowance of any unused sick leave accrued in the preceding year to be carried over to the next year is a significant change in existing law.  However, no accrual or carryover is required if the full amount of leave is received at the beginning of each year, and an employer is not required to provide compensation to an employee for accrued, unused paid sick days upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.

See: Law for rehiring up to age 67 to kick in by 2017

An employer may cap total accrual at 48 hours or 6 days.  An employer must provide an employee with written notice of available sick time on either the employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing with the payment of wages. In case of a sick leave that is foreseeable, an employee shall provide advance reasonable notification to the employer.

The law applies to part-time, temporary, seasonal and per diem employees. The law also applies to employees who are exempt from overtime requirements. According to the DLSE, employees must have been employed for 90 days before they begin using their sick leave.

According to the new law, the employee is entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment, however it authorises an employer to limit an employee’s paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days in each year of employment. While some larger employers in California provide paid sick leave or paid time off, AB 1522 mandates paid sick leave for part-time and seasonal workers, not just full-time employees.

This bill only exempts those covered under a valid collective bargaining agreement (CBA), such as those employees in the construction industry or a provider of in-home supportive service workers, an individual employed by an air carrier either as flight deck or cabin crew members are exempted from this mandate. Here are some tips that will help you comply with new paid sick leave mandate in California:

  • Paid time Off (PTO) may or might not satisfy the obligation
  • Most employees and employers are covered. You need to notify employees of their new rights.
  • Companies need to think about offering a lump sum benefit and impose caps.
  • Employers can consider variable pay and any discipline associated with abuse of PTO needs to be administered with utmost care.
  • The sick pay law prohibits retaliation against an employee for using or attempting to use sick days.

There are many additional nuances to the HWHFA law that employers need to study carefully and be aware of the intricacies to stay abreast of the changes in law.

Also read: California issues minor legal amendments to create better workplaces

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