CALIFORNIA PAID SICK LEAVE LAW, MORE ABOUT « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Labor Commissioner Weighs In Again on Workplace Benefits Law

As described in our article “California Paid Sick Leave Law,” several portions of California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (the Act) are just a shade clearer than mud.

In the latest attempts to clarify, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) recently issued its first opinion letter addressing the Act and updated its frequently asked questions list.

The opinion letter resolves a question concerning the total annual PSL certain employees must receive. Under an accrual PSL policy, in which employees earn sick leave over time, with accrued time carrying over in each year of employment, the Act allows an employer to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment. Under an up-front PSL policy the employer must provide at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave per year and the full amount of this leave must be available for the employee’s use at the beginning of the applicable 12-month period.

The question had arisen under both types of policies as to what is meant by “24 hours or three days” of PSL, particularly for part-time employees. For example, if a part-time employee works only four hours per shift, can that part-time worker lawfully receive only three days’ paid sick leave (i.e. 12 hours total) or must the worker receive 24 hours of paid sick leave (i.e. six days total)?

The opinion letter confirms the Division’s position that employers must provide an employee an annual allotment of up to three days or 24 hours of PSL, whichever is greater. According to the DLSE, as the Act regulates wages, hours and working conditions for employees’ protection and benefit, its provisions must be “liberally construed with an eye to promoting such protection.” “To limit a part-time worker who works four hour days to only 12 hours of paid sick leave, based on a ‘three day’ standard, disregards the statutory reference to a minimum of 24 hours and would defeat the legislative objective of providing low wage workers with at least a minimum of 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.” Thus, a part-time worker must receive up to 24 hours of PSL.

For additional assistance understanding and implementing the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth, November 13, 2015