New “FAQS” on the Use of Paid Sick Leave

The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement has issued a set of revised “Frequently Asked Questions” regarding the new paid sick leave law (AB 1522). The revisions generally provide clarification on three areas of the new law:

  1. Part-Time employees’ use of sick leave;
  2. How the sick leave law interacts with employees working valid “Alternative Workweek Schedules”; and,
  3. The notification requirements using the revised Wage Theft Prevention Notice.

Below is a part of the question and answer series provided by the DLSE. The DLSE FAQs can be found at the following link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm

Part-Time Employees

Q. If I work part time, six hours per day and I have accrued 24 hours of paid sick leave and I take three paid sick days, can my employer refuse to allow me to take any more sick leave in that same year?

A. No. Because the statute provides that an employer may limit the amount of sick leave to 24 hours or three days, and because you work 6 hours per day, you have only used 18 of your 24 hours. For enforcement purposes, DLSE interprets the reference to “three days” to state an equivalent of 24 hours (based on an 8 hour workday) and is not a limitation that can be used to prohibit a part-time employee from using at least 24 hours of accrued leave in a year. Therefore, the minimum amount that you have to be allowed to take cannot fall below 24 hours. In this situation, you still have 6 hours left to take and be paid for, during the year.

Alternative Workweek Schedules

Q. What if I work an alternative work schedule of four 10-hour days and I take paid sick leave. How much should I be paid?

A. The paid sick leave law allows the employee to decide how much paid leave time to take, subject to the employer’s ability to set a two hour minimum. Therefore, if you have ten hours in your bank, you can request to be paid for ten hours. If you decide to take less time than that in paid sick leave, then you will not receive your full pay but instead, pay for the number of hours that you choose to take. If you are sick for three days and have accrued 24 hours then your employer will have to pay you for 24 hours. However, if you have accrued 30 hours then because the minimum requirements of the statute are 3 days or 24 hours, you will have to be paid for 30 hours.

Notification Requirements

Q. If I was hired prior to January 1, 2015, by what date am I supposed to receive individual notice of the changes to my terms and conditions of employment that relate to paid sick leave?

A. The specific date will depend on when your employer either establishes a paid sick program under this law or changes an existing paid leave program to be compliant with this law. However, in view of the operative date of the law and the requirement to notify existing employees of changes in certain terms or conditions of their employment, employees hired prior to January 1, 2015, and who were provided a previous notice which was in effect as of December 31, 2014, must be notified of any change between the period from January 1, 2015 to no later than July 8, 2015.** An employer may choose to issue a new notice to all employees. An employer may also elect to provide notice under the alternatives stated in 2810.5 (b)(1) or (b)(2). If an employer chooses an alternative method (e.g. includes notice of change in a pay stub or itemized wage statement), the employer must ensure that the required paid sick leave information (the same paid sick leave information as contained in the revised notice) is contained in the applicable writing and is compliant with an authorized alternative manner for providing such information under subdivision (b).

** Subdivision (b) provides a 7 day period following the change in employment terms or conditions in which employees must be notified in writing. This makes July 8, 2015, the final date (July 1, 2015 operative accrual date + 7 days) for providing notice of changes relating to paid sick leave to an employee hired before January 1, 2015.

Although not new, you can find the sick leave law poster (that should have been posted as of January 1, 2015) at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Publications/Paid_Sick_Days_Poster_Template_(11_2014).pdf. The revised Wage Theft Prevention Act notice can be accessed at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Publications/LC_2810.5_Notice_(Revised-11_2014).pdf.

For questions regarding the new sick leave law, or any other employment law issue, contact any of our employment attorneys at LightGabler.