Healthy Families are Making Employers Sick


Healthy Families are Making Employers Sick

Friday, January 09, 2015

AB1522, the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act”, amends Section 2810.5 of the Labor Code and requires employers to provide all employees with paid sick leave.

Legislature’s expressed intention of the Act is to “ensure workers can address their own health needs and the needs of their families, decrease public and private health care costs by enabling workers to seek early and routine medical care, to protect employees from losing their jobs while they use sick days to care for themselves or their families, to provide economic security to employees and to safeguard the welfare, health, safety and prosperity of the people of and visitors to California.”

WHO RECEIVES PAID SICK LEAVE?   Effective July 1, 2015, most all employees regardless of size of the employer.  (There are limited exceptions for union employees, construction employees and providers of in-home support services.)

WHAT QUALIFIES AS “SICK LEAVE”?  An employee can use any or all of the accrued paid sick leave under AB1522 for the employee or family member (defined as a parent, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling).  Time off can be used for illness or preventative care or for those who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

HOW IS PAID SICK LEAVE EARNED?  Employee must accrue paid sick days at the rate of not less than 1 hour per every 30 hours worked.  A non-exempt employee who works a 60 hour work week will accrue 2 hours that week.

HOW MUCH PAID SICK LEAVE IS THE EMPLOYEE ENTITLED TO USE?  The employer may cap the accrual of paid sick leave at 48 hours or 6 days.  Also, the employer may limit the amount of paid sick leave used by the employee (regardless of how much time has accrued) to 24 hours or 3 days each year.  However, employees continue to accrue sick leave and any accrued unused sick leave must carry over to the following year of employment.  The employer may set a reasonable minimum increment (not to exceed two hours) that an employee must use each time sick leave is taken.

WHEN DOES THE EMPLOYEE START TO ACCRUE PAID SICK LEAVE?  The first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.

DOES IT APPLY TO EXEMPT EMPLOYEES?  Yes.  Those who are exempt as an administrative, executive or professional, are deemed to work 40 hours per workweek for purposes of accruing paid sick leave.  However, if the employee’s normal workweek is less than 40 hours, then the employee will accrue paid sick leave based on the normal workweek.

WHEN CAN THE EMPLOYEE BEING TO USE ACCRUED PAID SICK DAYS?  90 days after the start of employment.  Employers are required to provide written notice to employees with sick leave rights at the time of hire.

WHAT IF I ALREADY PROVIDE PAID SICK LEAVE?  If an employer already has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy it is not required to provide additional paid time off, if the existing policy provides for the same amount of paid leave and the leave may be used for the same purpose.

DO I NEED TO CASH OUT ACCRUED AND UNUSED SICK LEAVE AT THE TIME OF SEPARATION?  Not if the accrual is classified as “sick leave”.  However, if an employer has only a “paid time off” policy that does not separate vacation from sick leave, then any accrued and unused time must be paid.  Also, if an employee separates from employment but is rehired within one year, all previously accrued and unused sick days must be reinstated.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?  Although the accrual of paid sick leave doesn’t take effect until July 1, 2015, notice and posting requirements are effective January 1, 2015.  Employers must display the sick leave poster in a place where employees will see it, such as the break room or other common area.  The poster can be downloaded or ordered from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement website:  http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ab1522.html

Also, you should start taking action to revise handbook and leave policies and also notify payroll companies of your policy changes now.  The amount of leave available/accrued must be included in the employee’s wage statement or be provided to the employee in a separate writing given to the employee on the employee’s pay date.  Employers are required to keep records showing how many paid sick leave hours have been earned and used for three years.

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