California recently expanded the amount of paid sick leave guaranteed to workers.
Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s SB 616, which guarantees employees five days of paid sick leave each year, up from the previous three days.
The law requires employers of all sizes to provide 40 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time on the 200th calendar day of employment or every calendar year or every 12 months. It allows employers to limit carryover sick leave to 40 hours or five days per year. It will take effect on January 1, 2024.
Full-time, part-time and temporary workers are eligible for paid sick leave if they have worked for the same employer for at least 30 days in a year in California and have completed a 90-day period of employment before taking any paid sick leave. An employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement is not subject to the law if the agreement provides for paid sick days or paid time off.
Having more paid sick days can encourage employees to stay home when they are sick, so they don’t spread germs to co-workers or customers. “Many people still have to choose between forgoing a day’s pay and taking care of themselves or their family members when they are sick,” Newsom said.
“Every working person and especially working parents know that three sick days is not enough,” said David Huerta, president of the service employees union SEIU California in Sacramento, Calif. what happens when workers face the possibility of losing a large part of their wages.”
Business groups have expressed concerns about the cost of the extra time off.
“This new mandate will impose significant costs on California businesses, especially small employers who are already operating on thin margins,” said Jennifer Barrera, president of the California Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento, Calif. absorb this new cost, especially when viewed in the context of all the other California leaves and paid benefits, and they have to cut jobs, cut wages or raise prices consumer to deal with this order.
If the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide reasonable advance notice. If the need for paid sick leave is unpredictable, the employee must give notice of the need for leave as soon as possible. Employees do not need to provide a doctor’s note to prove that their leave is for medical treatment or diagnosis.
“Employers have seen examples of abuse of existing sick leave because there is no required documentation,” said Benjamin Ebbink, an attorney at Fisher Phillips in Sacramento, Calif. ability to verify whether it is really for a permissible reason.”
Under state law, an employer cannot require an employee to find or find a replacement worker to cover the days on which the employee uses paid sick days.
In addition to the paid-sick-leave law, California also has laws that provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave, up to five days of bereavement leave, and up to four months of unpaid pregnancy disability leave.
Local sick-leave laws are pre-empted by state law if local laws are less generous, according to Robin Samuel and Benjamin Ho, lawyers at Baker McKenzie in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
To avoid lawsuits, “it’s important to confirm that the company’s payroll processor correctly earned (paid leave) allowances and that the payroll statements are 100 percent accurate,” they said.