JULY 1, 2015 DEADLINE IS APPROACHING « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Do You Know Where Your Company’s California-Required Paid Sick Leave Policy Is?

We have been blogging for some months about California’s new mandatory paid sick leave requirements. Choosing from one or more of several options, all employers in this state must adopt a policy by July 1, 2015. See, Mandatory Paid Sick Leave For California Employees; California Labor Commissioner Provides the FAQs on New Paid Sick Leave Benefits Law; and California Sick Leave Benefit “Clean-up” Legislation Introduced.

These are common client questions and our answers.

1. When does the new sick leave law take effect?
Under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (the Act), the requirement to begin providing paid sick leave takes effect on July 1, 2015. The Act also required each employer to post a notice on the particular features of that company’s sick leave policy starting January 1, 2015.

2. Does the new paid sick leave law apply only to large employers?
No. With exceptions for collective bargaining agreements and a few other limited circumstances, the Act requires that every California employer provides paid sick leave to all employees, whether temporary, part-time, or full-time.

3. Do I need to give a notice of the new law to employees?
Yes. In addition to prominently posting notice in a spot accessible to all employees, each employer must provide each of its employees a “Notice to Employees” that specifies his/her paid sick leave rights.

4. If we have an existing sick leave policy, can we assume it is fine or should we seek review of the policy to ensure it complies?
Every employer with an existing paid sick days policy should have it reviewed by employment counsel to ensure it complies with the new law. The Act is in many respects complicated and vague in others. Competent employment attorneys should know the law’s nuances and interpretations, while watching for new developments that may break right up to the July 1 effective date.

5. How much sick leave do I need to give?
Each employee, even a part-timer on a short schedule, is entitled to 3 days, or 24 hours, of paid sick leave annually under current interpretations by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). See the DLSE frequently-asked questions.

6. Is there a simple method to comply with the law?
“Simple” depends on a good understanding of the options available. There are three separate methods for compliance. First is the “advance method” where the employer provides all of the sick leave at the beginning of the year (i.e., on July 1, 2015, for purposes of commencing compliance under the law this year). Second is the “accrual method” where an employee gradually earns sick leave based upon the number hours he or she works for a company beginning July 1, 2015 or, if employed later, beginning on the first day of employment. The third is any “paid time off” method which includes sick leave at a minimum of three days or 24 hours annually among the reasons for such benefit. To select one of these methods (or more than one, each applicable to certain kinds of workers) requires understanding and analysis of the detailed factors that go into each such method, including how employers may cap the amount of sick leave actually accrued and taken.

7. Do I have to notify employees about how much sick leave they have available?
Yes. Each employee pay stub or a separate paper accompanying an employee’s pay needs to show how much sick leave the person currently has.

8. Can we rely on the current state of the sick leave law?
Probably not. Amendments to the Act intended to clarify vague aspects and eliminate potential contradictions are pending in the Legislature. We will promptly blog any such amendments that pass into law.

9. Do I have to provide paid sick leave benefits to employees hired after July 1, 2015 and, if so, how?
Yes. Just how a business provides the benefit to new hires depends on the method it adopts. Under the advance method, a newly hired worker will have the minimum three days/24 hours of paid sick leave assigned to him or her on the first day of employment. Under the accrual method, that person starts to earn such benefits on his/her first day at the rate specified in company policy. However, under any method, a business is not required to begin actually paying for sick time off until the person has been employed over 89 calendar days.

If you have questions about the new law or what policy you should implement, you may contact any of our attorneys, Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth, or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin, June 11, 2015