Benefit News

California Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

September 24, 2014

On September 10, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law into effect, entitled the "Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014," making California only the second state in the country (after Connecticut) to require employers to provide paid sick leave for its employees. The state law follows the recent enactment of a paid sick leave law in San Diego that goes into effect on April 1, 2015.

Overview of California's Paid Sick Leave Law

Key features of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 are as follows:

  • Beginning July 1, 2015, employees working in California for 30 or more days within a year are entitled to accrue paid sick days at the rate of at least one hour per every 30 hours worked, beginning as of their hire date (or July 1, 2015, if later).
  • Employees will be able to begin using their accrued paid sick days beginning on their 90th day of employment, after which they may use paid sick days as they are accrued, up to a maximum number of 24 hours, or 3 days per year.
  • Employees may use paid sick leave for their own health condition as well as the health condition of a family member (defined to include child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling). In addition, the employee can use leave if he or she is a victim of domestic assault, sexual violence, and/or stalking.
  • Accrued paid sick days are carried over to the following year, but do not need to be paid out at termination. Employees who are rehired with a break in service of less than one year are entitled to have previously accrued and unused paid sick days reinstated.
  • Certain employee groups are exempt, including those covered by a collective bargaining agreement that meets specific requirements, providers of in-home health care, and certain individuals employed in the airline industry who are compensated with time off equal to or exceeding the amount provided under this law.
  • The law is intended to provide minimum requirements pertaining to paid sick days. An employer that currently provides paid sick leave, is permitted to (but is not required to) provide more paid sick days than what is required under this law.
  • Employers must track sick leave accrued and used for each employee. Records must be kept for at least 3 years. There are also notice (see below) and posting requirements.
Notice Requirements

Each employee must be provided a notice at the time of his or her hiring containing information deemed material and necessary, including the following:

  • Pay rate information.
  • Meal, lodging and other allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage (if any).
  • The employee's regular pay day (as designated by the employer).
  • Employer name and contact information (including address and telephone number).
  • Name and contact information of the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier.
  • A statement to the effect that the employee may accrue and use sick leave, has a right to request and use accrued paid sick leave, may not be retaliated against for doing so, and has the right to file a complaint against an employer that does retaliate against him or her.

It is also contemplated that the Division of Labor will provide a model notice to satisfy these requirements.

San Diego's Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance

California's paid sick leave law comes on the heels of the passage of the "Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance" in San Diego. Effective April 1, 2015, the Ordinance generally requires employers of all sizes to accrue up to an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of paid work performed in the City of San Diego. However, it permits employees to use up to a maximum of 40 hours (5 days) of sick leave versus 24 hours, or 3 days, a year under the state law. In addition, the Ordinance raises the minimum wage in the City annually from $9.75 per hour effective January 1, 2015 to $11.50 per hour effective January 1, 2017 (and beginning January 1, 2019, the minimum wage will be indexed to inflation).

San Francisco also has a paid sick leave ordinance that permits eligible employees to accrue paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work. Up to 72 hours may be accrued annually (40 hours for employers with fewer than 10 employees), with no cap on how much paid sick leave an employee may use in a year.

For additional information, please contact your Burnham Benefits Consultant, Burnham Benefits at 949-833-2983, or

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