California Paid Sick Leave Law

On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1522, a law requiring public and private employers to provide their employees with at least 3 paid sick leave days per year. It is very important that employers begin implementing paid sick leave policies to make sure they are compliant with the new law, which goes into effect in July 2015.

Under the new law, most employees will be entitled to one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  Employees will be able to use sick leave for their own illness as well as for preventive care, which includes looking after a sick family member or recovering from certain crimes.

The law creates an accrual option and a lump sum option. Under the accrual option, sick days that go unused during a year will roll over to the next year. However, employers can choose to stop employees from accumulating more than 48 hours, or six (6) days, of accumulated paid sick leave. Under the lump sum option, employers can give all employees a minimum of three (3) days of paid sick leave at the beginning of each year. No accrual or carryover is required.

Employees will not be entitled to pay for unused sick leave at separation of employment. In other words, if an employee leaves his or her job, he or she cannot “cash out” unused sick days in the manner vacation and paid time off can be cashed in.  However, if the employee is rehired by the same employer within a year, he or she can reclaim those unused sick days.

California employers that already have paid sick leave policies that already live up to the requirements of the new law do not need to provide additional leave, but they should make sure they have a way of tracking used and unused leave. California employers who do not have paid sick days need to review the new law and adopt a paid sick leave policy.

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