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Understanding the New Paid Sick Leave


If you are like many people, you might be a little confused by the recent Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014. You may know that the act increases paid sick leave requirements, but you might be unsure exactly who is covered. Here are the answers to some of the questions you might be asking.


When did it start?


Although it technically took effect January 1, 2015, eligibility for benefits did not start until July 1, 2015. This can be a bit confusing, but basically only days worked from July 1, 2015 qualify employees for the benefits.


Who is covered?


With few exceptions, people who work at least 30 days annually in California are covered after their 90th day of employment. This means that seasonal employees or those who only work between 30 and 90 days in a year may have to wait more than a year before receiving sick leave benefits.


Part-time, seasonal, and even temporary employees are all covered as long as they meet the minimum number of days worked qualifications.


How much time off is granted?


This depends upon several factors. First, it depends upon how much time the person has worked. Employees earn a minimum of one hour sick leave for every 30 hours they work. This works out to roughly eight days of sick leave for a full-time employee each year. Second, employers can limit the amount of time an employee can actually take in a year to 24 hours or three 8-hour days.


One important thing to understand is that 24 hours is the low-end of required sick leave, no matter how much time an employee works daily. Therefore, if someone only works four hours a day, that person would actually have at least six days of sick leave under the new law.


If someone does not work enough to build up 24 hours of sick leave, that employee will only get the applicable amount of sick leave for that year.


How is one year calculated?


If the employee started work on July 1, 2015 or earlier, the date would be calculated starting then. If the employee was hired after July 1, 2015, the employee’s one year would be calculated from the date of hire.


What if my company already has a Paid Time Off (PTO) plan?


The new plan does not limit the maximum amount of sick leave you can provide employees. If you already have a plan which meets or exceeds the requirements, you can continue to use your established PTO plan. Just make sure your plan meets the minimum requirements and that your company policy is clear to employees.


Do I need to pay employees for unused sick leave if they leave the company?


No, but if an employee leaves and then comes back to work for the same company within twelve months, that person is entitled to any unused sick leave from their previous employment.


Do my employees have to use their sick leave only for illnesses?


There are a variety of reasons employees can use their sick leave. This includes care or treatment for existing health conditions as well as preventative care for specific conditions. Preventative care could include annual physical or other doctor’s appointment. An employee can take time off for their own care as well as for the care of family members including the employee’s parents, children, spouse, siblings, and grandchildren.


Although the employee must give either written or oral notice that they are taking time off, they are not required to find a replacement for their time off. When the absence is foreseeable, the employee should give the appropriate advance notice. If not, the person should give notice as soon as practical.


How do I inform employees of the new sick leave conditions?


Upon hire, all new employees should be given a written notice of their paid sick leave rights. There should also be a poster display of the paid sick leave law. This should be located in a place where employees can easily read it. Employees should also have written documentation of the number of hours of sick leave they have available. This can be done on a pay stub or other document included with the employee’s paycheck.


Contact us to learn more about the new sick leave law or if you need help finding new quality employees. Whether you are looking to hire permanently, temporary, or a little of both, we will help you find the right candidates to fit with your company’s needs.