Are You Sick? Allow Me To Pay For That . . .

California is about to make history: it is on the verge of forcing employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. On August 29, 2014, the Senate passed AB 1522, better known as “The Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act of 2014.” Although Governor Brown has yet to sign this bill into law, it appears to be a virtual certainty that he will do so. In fact, on August 30, 2014, he issued the following statement, “Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians. This bill guarantees that millions of workers – from Eureka to San Diego – won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

So, what do California employers need to know about AB 1522? Well, among other things:

  • This bill, once signed into law, will become effective July 1, 2015;
  • It applies to full-time, part-time, non-exempt and exempt employees;
  • It applies to all businesses, both small and large;
  • It requires employers to provide at least three paid sick days per year for employees;
  • Sick leave will accrue at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked (at three days per year);
  • Sick leave can accrue from year-to-year;
  • An employer can cap the total accrual of paid sick leave at 48 hours (6 days);
  • Accrued but unused sick leave does not need to be paid out at separation of employment;
  • If a former employee is rehired within one year of the initial separation, all previously accrued but unused sick leave must be reinstated;
  • An employer can require employees to work for 90 days before accrued sick leave can be used;
  • An employer can set the minimum usage increment at two hours or less;
  • An employee can use sick leave to care for specified family members;
  • Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against any employee who requests the right to use paid sick days;
  • Employers are required to satisfy specified posting and notice and recordkeeping requirements;
  • There are certain carve-outs for employers with valid collective bargaining agreements, providers of in-home supportive services and individuals employed by an air carrier.

The full text of this bill and its proposed requirements can be found at:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1522.

Employers would be wise to get ahead of the herd by reviewing and updating their sick leave policies for the new year to ensure compliance with the upcoming AB 1522. For those employers who do not have sick leave policies in place, now is the time to work with your employment counsel to get a plan in place.

For questions about AB 1522 or any other employment law issues, please contact any of our employment attorneys at LightGabler.