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California- Labor Law Update

California employers already have a myriad of employment laws to comply with, so what’s one more?

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into state law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (the “Act”). Effective July 1, 2015, all employers — no matter the size — must provide paid sick time to their employees, including part-time and seasonal workers who have worked at least 30 days in a year.

Side Effects

What does this mean for businesses throughout the Golden State? The real winners are the employees who beforehand did not have paid sick leave. Currently, an employee who gets sick, yet does not have paid sick leave, may opt to go to work rather than endure the financial burden of staying home, thus potentially triggering the spread of illness to other employees, not to mention the lack of productivity throughout the day.

It is no surprise that the passing of this new labor law has caused some controversy on the West Coast. Regardless, it passed and will take effect next year, so employers prepare for it now.

Under the new law, employees can accrue up to at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked . Accrued sick leave may carry over into the following year; however, employers will be allowed the right to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days each year. Employers also may cap the total accrual amount at 48 hours or six days.

Employees also will be able to use sick leave for personal illness, as well as to care for an ill family member, or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Employees may begin to use paid sick leave beginning as early as the 90th day of employment.

An employer may “lend” sick days to an employee with proper documentation, at the employer’s discretion, in advance of the paid sick leave accrual.

It is up to the employee to determine how much sick leave he or she needs to use, but the employer is allowed to set a reasonable minimum increment, not to exceed two hours, for the use of the paid sick leave.

If an employee separates from an employer and is rehired by the employer within one year from the date of separations, previously accrued and unused paid sick days shall be reinstated.

Exceptions to the Rule

However, as we know, there are always exceptions. The new law excludes the following:

  1. an employee covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for paid sick days, paid leave or paid-time-off policy permitting the use of paid sick days for those employees;
  2. an employee in the construction industry covered by a collective bargaining agreement, providing for regular hourly pay of not less than 30 percent more than minimum wage;
  3. a provider of in-home supportive services; and
  4. an individual employed by an air carrier as a flight deck or cabin crew member.

Clear as day, right? Many of California’s employment laws are multifaceted, and this one is no exception, so if this law will have any effect on your business, I would encourage you to read more about it.

Several employment laws relating to higher minimum wage, more powerful whistle-blower protections and new immigration status-related protections for employees have taken effect this year. Notably, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 looks to place more emphasis on employee health, likely reducing the number of sick workers at work and increasing overall productivity.

For more information, please see the text of the Act in full at: