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Comply with California’s Paid Sick Leave Law July 1, 2015 Or Face the Fate of Heavy Penalties

Beginning July 1, 2015, all California employers must begin to offer paid sick leave (PSL) benefits under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, AB 1522 (the Act). See July 1, 2015 Deadline Is Approaching. Do You Know Where Your Company’s California-Required Paid Sick Leave Policy Is?

The Act gives the state Labor Commissioner power to determine violators and to “order any appropriate relief, including reinstatement, back pay, the payment of sick days unlawfully withheld, and the payment of an additional sum in the form of an administrative penalty.” Labor Code 248.5(b), (c). Those administrative penalties can include:

1. Three times the amount of sick pay that was withheld, up to $4,000; and

2. Daily penalties of up to $50/day/employee with a $4,000 maximum.
An employer that does not comply with a Commissioner’s orders to pay, etc., is subject to civil lawsuit that can include attorney fees, costs and additional penalties up to $50/day/employee with no ceiling on the maximum award. Labor Code 248.5(e).

Employers who fail to comply with the Act for their workers across the boards are also open to potential class action and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) suits from current and former employees.

An employer who at least adopts and undertakes to apply a PSL policy compliant with the Act by July 1 may be able to avoid the above consequences for isolated and unintentional errors. Labor Code 248.5(h).

For any California employer lacking a PSL policy, the time is now to understand the Act and to choose among its several options to comply. If you have any questions or need assistance, contact one of our attorneys, Timothy Bowles, Cindy Bamforth, and Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin and Tim Bowles, June 18, 2015