A Reminder: Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Starts July 1, 2015

A hot topic for legislators throughout the United States, last fall California became the second state to require paid sick leave. Effective July 1, 2015, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 provides that all employees working in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment are entitled to paid sick leave, which means that temporary and part-time employees may be eligible. Sick leave must either (i) accrue at the rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked, or (ii) total at least three days or 24 hours and be provided in full at the beginning of the year. Although sick leave that accrues may total more than three days per year, employers may limit use to three days or 24 hours per year of employment. Sick leave that accrues must carry over from year to year, but employers may cap accrual to six days or 48 hours. Employees must be entitled to use accrued paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. Employees may use accrued paid sick days for their own health needs, including preventative care, or for the health needs of a broad group of family members, and sick leave may also be used for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to attend to related legal matters.

Exempt employees are covered and will accrue and be paid for sick leave based on a 40 hour per week workweek, unless the employee’s work week is less than 40 hours, in which case the employee shall accrue paid sick days based upon that normal workweek. For an hourly employee, the rate of pay for sick leave would be the hourly wage. However, if in the preceding 90 days an employee had different hourly rates, was paid by commission, or was a nonexempt salaried employee, the rate of pay is calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.

Employers must notify employees of their right to sick leave by posting a notice, and provide written notice on each payday of the amount of paid sick leave available. Employers must keep for at least three years records documenting hours worked, paid sick days accrued and paid sick days used by each employee. Various penalties apply if an employer fails to comply with the requirements of the new law and retaliation against an employee seeking to invoke his or her rights under the law is strictly prohibited.

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 is a comprehensive, complicated piece of legislation. Compliance with this law will require numerous adjustments by employers. Employers are strongly urged to consult with legal counsel regarding these new laws, and training for those responsible for implementation is highly recommended.

Note: Kelly O. Scott, Esq. is scheduled to present his seminar "Stay Healthy: Avoiding Problems Under the New Sick Leave Law" on Friday, June 5th, at the Luxe Hotel Sunset in Los Angeles. 

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2015.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department, at (310) 281-6348.

Tags: HR

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