California Enacts Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law

Last week, Governor Brown signed into law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 with an effective date of 1/1/2015.  The law mandates that most employers provide paid sick leave to employees.  In addition, at least 3 California cities have passed their own paid sick leave laws, meaning that compliance with multiple laws may prove challenging.

Under the new California law, with some limited exceptions, employers with employees who work in California will need to provide up to 24 hours of paid sick time to current and new employees beginning on July 1, 2015.  With limited, very specific exceptions, the California paid sick leave act applies to any employer that has at least one employee who works more than 30 days in a year in the state of California.   All employees who work more than 30 days in a year in California are covered (including part-time and temporary employees).

Employers must allow employees to use the 24 hours of paid sick time on the employee’s oral or written request for the following reasons:

For his or her own qualifying need, or for that of a “family member,” for:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition; or
  • Preventative care.

Additionally, sick time can be used:

  • If the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employers may require that paid sick leave to be used in “reasonable minimum” increments not to exceed two hours.

The legislation also specifies rules for accruals and caps on sick leave, but does not require unused sick leave to be paid out at the end of employment.  And, there are specific rules for use of existing leave banks, as well as for positing/employee notification and recordkeeping.

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Employers that have employees who perform work in California are advised to take one or more of the following actions:

  • For employers with employees working in California cities with paid sick leave laws, review city laws and compare with the state law to determine how to comply with all applicable paid sick leave laws.
  • For employers in multiple states and/or cities that have paid sick leave laws, formulate a compliance plan and policy to achieve compliance with all applicable paid sick leave laws.
  • Review and revise, if necessary, paid sick leave and/or PTO policies and procedures to ensure they meet the law’s requirements, including review of carryover, cap, and reinstatement provisions.
  • Review and revise, if necessary, anti-retaliation policies.
  • Monitor the Labor Commissioner’s public notices and website for template notices and workplace posters.
  • Obtain and display the necessary posters in a conspicuous and accessible place in each workplace in California and determine how to address posting requirements for remote workers.
  • Employers that want to develop their own notice should consult with knowledgeable employment counsel to ensure the notice satisfies all legal requirements. Additionally, employers should consider creating acknowledgment forms to guard against claims that notice was not provided.
  • For employers using the Labor Commissioner’s Wage Theft Prevention Act sample notice to employees or one similar to the sample, ensure that the notice is updated to include the necessary paid sick leave notice required by the law.
  • At a minimum, use of any notice to employees of their rights under this new law should begin on July 1, 2015. To avoid arguments that proper notice has not been provided, employers should strongly consider providing such notice to current employees by July 8, 2015 at the very latest.
  • Ensure timekeeping, payroll, and benefits systems properly calculate, track, and detail accrued and used sick time. If a third-party payroll processor is used, ensure it is aware of and complies with the law’s requirements.
  • Ensure that all itemized wage statements or other written notice provided at the time of payment to an employee includes the amount of paid sick leave available to the employee.
  • Train supervisory and managerial employees, as well as HR and payroll personnel, on the new law’s requirements.


If you would like assistance understanding the impact of this new, state-wide legislation on your business – or if you need assistance with other HR related issues – pick up the phone and give us a call.

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