Last week Governor Jerry Brown signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 which will require most employers in the state to provide paid sick time to their employees working 30 or more hours a week (for the full press release click here). With this, California joins Connecticut as the two states requiring employers to provide paid sick leave. The new law will take effect on July 1, 2015, allowing for the time employers may need to develop policies and processes to be in compliance. Highlights of the new law include:

  • A minimum of one hour for each 30 hours worked for any employee working 30 or more days within the first year of their employment;
  • Access to accrued sick time after 90 days of employment and annual carryover of accrued time (unless the time is allotted in full at the beginning of each year), although employers may limit usage to 3 days or 24 hours each year and total accrual may be limited to 48 hours;
  • Reinstatement of unused, accrued sick time upon rehire within one year; and
  • Explicit inclusion of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking as reasons that would allow an employee to use their accrued sick time.
In addition, there are posting and record-keeping requirements, as well as protections against retaliation and discrimination when employee seek to use or assert their rights under the new law. The law also clearly defines the family members for whom an employee may use sick time to attend to during an illness. Employers whose paid sick time policy already meets the minimum amount of time required by the Act will not be required to provide any additional time, (but still need to meet the law's other provisions), nor will employers be required to pay employees for their accrued sick time upon their separation from the organization. San Francisco employers (and San Diego employers beginning on January 1) will need to comply with whichever provisions are the more advantageous to employees.

BACKGROUND

Many employers already have a more generous paid sick leave policy than the new law requires, however estimates put the number of employees in the state without access to paid sick leave at around 6.5 million. Employers who have existing sick leave policies will want to review them carefully to ensure they are meeting all the requirements of the new law. For the full text of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, click here.