California Assembly Bill 1522 – Paid Sick Days
On September 10, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Assembly Bill 1522 into law. The bill enacted the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The Act, which will take effect on July 1, 2015, provides that an employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment, is entitled to paid sick days, accrued at a rate of no less than one (1) hour for every thirty (30) hours worked.
The Act defines an “employer” as “any person employing another under any appointment or contract of hire and includes the state, political subdivisions of the state and municipalities.” Thus, this Act does not contain carve outs for small or state employers.
All California employers should therefore begin to familiarize themselves with the Act’s requirements to ensure compliance. As a result of the new Act, employers may need to amend or revise their employee policies, payroll and entry forms and documentation/notice requirements.
The substantive issues of the Act are:
- If the employee works for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment, he or she is entitled to paid sick days, which he/she can accrue at the rate of not less than one hour for every 30 hours worked. Thus, a full-time employee who works 40 hours per week can accrue up to 8.6 paid sick days off per year;
- An employee is entitled to use accrued paid sick time beginning on the 90th day of employment, after which day the employee may use paid sick days as they are accrued;
- An employee can use paid sick days for an existing health condition or preventive care for themselves or a family member, which the act defines as a parent, child, spouse or registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild and sibling; paid sick time may also be used for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;
- Accrued paid sick days must carry over to the following year of employment; however, the employer can limit an employee’s use paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days in each year of employment;
- The employer may also limit the overall annual accrual amount to 48 hours or 6 days;
- An employer is not required to provide additional paid sick time if the employer has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy, if the employer satisfies the accrual, carry over and use requirements of the Act; and, provides no less than 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave, or equivalent paid leave or paid time off, for employee use for each year of employment or calendar year or 12-month basis;
- If an employee exempt from overtime requirements due to his/her administrative, executive or professional status has a normal work week of less than 40 hours, the employee must accrue paid sick days based upon that specific workweek;
- If an employee separates from an employer and is rehired by the employer within one year from the date of separation, the previously accrued and unused paid sick days shall be reinstated;
- The employer must pay the employee for sick leave taken by that employee no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the employee took the sick leave;
- The Act prohibits an employer from discriminating or retaliating against the employee.
Employers are likewise obligated to provide the employee with a written notice setting forth the amount of paid sick leave available to the employee each pay period, a modified Wage and Employment Notice pursuant to Labor Code Section 2810.5 and a poster advising employees of their sick leave rights.
The Act has additional nuances and requirements of which all California employers should be aware in order to avoid the various stiff fines and penalties for not providing sick days and a civil action by the Attorney General.
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