By Samson R. Elsbernd, Esq.
The California Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act of 2014 has been operative since January 1, 2015 even though employees have not yet begun to accrue sick leave pursuant to the law. Employees will only begin to accrue sick leave pursuant to the law on July 1, 2015.
The California Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act of 2014 requires that employers, subject to very limited exceptions, provide paid sick leave to their employees. The new law covers exempt and non-exempt (including part-time, per diem, and temporary) employees. Employees who have worked in the State for 30 or more days within a year from the start date of their employment will accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, and may use their accumulated leave beginning on the 90th day of employment.
Paid Sick Leave law went into effect on January 1
Since January 1, California employers have been obligated to post the Labor Commissioner’s Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act poster in a conspicuous location in the workplace. The information about the new law is also contained in the revised Notice to Employee, which is the Labor Commissioner’s form for newly hired non-exempt employees that contains employment-related information, such as pay rates and entitlement to sick leave. Employers have been using this revised form for non-exempt employees who are hired after January 1, 2015. As to non-exempt employees hired pre-January 1, 2015, employers already provided written notice of the sick leave law information on a revised Notice to Employee or in another writing, or will provide such notice by July 8, 2015, depending on date of implementation of their policy or the new law’s requirements.
Employees begin to accrue sick leave pursuant to the Paid Sick Leave law on July 1
Starting July 1, employees will accrue paid sick leave either pursuant to the Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act only or pursuant to employer sick leave policies. Employees who simply accrue paid sick pursuant to the minimum requirements of the new law will accrue approximately 8 days (69 hours) of paid sick leave each calendar year, with accrued, unused paid sick leave carrying over to the following year.
Conversely, employees may accrue paid sick leave pursuant to employer sick leave or paid time off (PTO) policies. Employers, through sick leave or PTO policies, may cap the accrual and use of paid sick leave available to their employees pursuant to the Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act. For example, company paid sick leave policies may limit full-time employees to using 3 days (24 hours) of paid sick leave in each year of employment. Accrued but unused paid sick leave must carry over from year to year unless employers simply advance the full 3 paid sick days at the beginning of each year. Employers may cap total accrual of paid sick leave at 6 days (48 hours).
Before employers simply fall back on their written paid sick leave or PTO policies, though, they should ensure that those policies satisfy the accrual, carryover, and use requirements of the Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act. In other words, employer policies must meet the minimum requirements of the new paid sick leave law, and if they do, then employers do not have to provide additional sick leave. If they do not, employers must either modify their polices or allow their employees to accrue paid sick leave pursuant to the new law. Of course, employer policies may also exceed the minimum legal requirements of the new law.
Finally, employers should also be aware that the new law imposes record keeping requirements concerning sick leave, including requiring employers to provide written notice of the amount of sick leave available on the employee’s itemized wage statement or in another writing, and to maintain records concerning sick leave for 3 years.