Client News Briefs

New Law Requires Minimum Paid Sick Days For Employees

September 2014
Number 59

On August 30, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1522, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (Act). Beginning on July 1, 2015, employees, including part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, who work 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment must now accrue a minimum of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. There is no hourly minimum for eligibility. Employees may begin to use accrued paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. Accrued paid sick days carry over to the following year unless the full amount of leave is provided at the beginning of each year.

Sick leave may be used for the diagnosis, care, and treatment of the employee or an employee's family member, as well as for an employee's needs relating to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Those needs include obtaining social and legal assistance. The Act's definition of "family member" is broader and includes more extended family members than the definitions provided under the Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act.

AB 1522 provides employers with options on employees' use and accrual of sick leave. Employees' use of paid sick days may be limited to 24 hours (or three working days) per year of employment and employees' accrual of paid sick leave may be limited to 48 hours (or six working days). Employees may be required to use a reasonable minimum increment of sick leave not to exceed two hours.

Employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement are exempt from this law if the collective bargaining agreement meets certain conditions, including (1) expressly providing for paid leave to be used for illness, (2) binding arbitration of disputes regarding the application of paid sick days provisions, (3) premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, and (4) regular hourly pay of not less than 30% more than the state minimum wage. Providers of in-home support services are also exempt.

Employers must place a poster created by the Labor Commissioner containing relevant information to AB 1522 in a conspicuous place. Employers must also maintain records documenting hours worked and paid sick days accrued and used by an employee for at least three years. The Act requires employees to receive written notice setting forth the amount of paid sick leave accrued and used on either the itemized wage statement or in a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the payment of wages.

While many public agencies may not be significantly impacted by the Act because their employees are already covered under generous sick leave policies and collective bargaining agreements, the Act will apply if the applicable collective bargaining agreement does not provide for binding arbitration of disputes regarding the application of paid sick days or if any of the other requirements for the exemption are not met. Collective bargaining agreements should be reviewed to ensure that minimum increment use requirements do not exceed two hours and to ensure employees may use sick leave to attend to domestic violence needs, including obtaining social and legal services. Additionally, the leave rights of part-time and temporary workers, substitute teachers, and lunchtime aides may be affected.

The Act includes penalties for failure to comply, including the ability of the Labor Commissioner or the Attorney General to bring a civil action. Many public agencies will need to revise their sick leave policies and collective bargaining agreements to address the requirements of the Act prior to the effective date of July 1, 2015. The application of this legislation to certain types of employees raises many questions that are not specifically addressed by the terms of AB 1522. To the extent you have questions about how this legislation will affect any of your employee groups or classifications, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.