DON’T GET SICK OF SICK PAY AN OVERVIEW OF CALIFORNIA PAID SICK LEAVE « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Federal and state laws currently do not require California employers to provide employees with paid sick leave unless the employer is located in San Francisco County.  However, as a practical matter, many employers grant sick leave, often in the form of an annual allotment of paid sick days.  Where employers provide paid sick time, employers must permit an employee to use one-half of his or her annual sick leave allotment, once it has actually accrued, to care for a sick child, spouse, parent or domestic partner (so-called “kin-care”).  See Labor Code Section 233(a).

Once an exempt employee has exhausted his or her paid sick leave, the employer may begin to deduct from the exempt employee’s salary for absences due to sickness or disability in increments of full working days.  See the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual, available online at

Unlike vacation pay, sick pay is not a so-called “accruing benefit.” Unused sick pay is not carried over into the next calendar year.  Employers should state in their sick leave policies that employees are not paid for any sick time unused at the end of a calendar year or in the event of termination for any reason.

Sick leave policies should also state the employer reserves the right to require the employee to demonstrate the medical necessity for sick leave by his or her doctor’s written confirmation. Employers may also require a doctor’s written confirmation that an employee is able to return to work (a) without posing a safety or health risk to that employee or other workers; and (b) with the ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without reasonable accommodation.

On May 18, 2009, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced a bill called the Healthy Families Act (H.R.2460) in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The Act would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.  This bill is in the first step in the legislative process and has been referred to committee.  For more information on H.R.2460 please see