Effective July 1, 2015, California will join Connecticut and Massachusetts[1] in providing mandatory paid sick leave for employees who work in the state at least 30 days within a year, and who are employed for at least 90 days. Under the new law, employees will accrue at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, for approximately 8 days a year for full-time employees. However, the new law allows an employer to limit the amount of paid sick leave its employees may take in one year to 24 hours (3 days). Employees must be allowed to carry over unused sick leave from one year to the next, but an employer can cap the amount of sick leave an employee may accrue at 48 hours (6 days). This law applies to all California employees regardless of whether they are part-time or temporary employees, with limited exceptions. Even small employers are subject to the new rules.

AB 1522 requires employees be allowed to take paid sick leave for either their own health condition or the health condition of a family member, including preventative treatment. Family members include the employee’s parent, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. Employers are not required to increase the number of paid leave days allowed for in existing policies if they provide for equal benefits as the new law.

Employee Notice Required

Employers must provide written notice to new employees specifying how paid sick leave accrues and their right to use paid sick leave. The employer must also display a poster on paid sick leave where employees can easily read it. Further, an employee’s accrued sick leave must be available on either his or her paystub or a document issued the same day as a paycheck. Finally, the new law prohibits retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests or uses paid sick days.

What Should Employers Do?

California employers – and employers with workers in the state – should review their existing paid leave policies to ensure they comply with California’s new paid leave law, and should confirm they are in compliance with the law’s various notice requirements, and to make clear that sick leave will be included in an employee’s paid time off (PTO). Moreover, all record of employee hours worked and sick days accrued and used should be carefully documented for a minimum of three years.

[1] Oregon’s paid sick leave measure was signed into law in June 2015, and will become effective January 1, 2016.