As of last week, California law now requires mandatory, paid sick leave for most employees – including part-time, temporary and seasonal employees.  This means restaurants in the Golden State now must provide paid sick leave, whether they have in the past or not.  Employees are now guaranteed up to 24 hours (three days)  of annual sick leave – there is no exception for small employers.  Some of the key details of California’s new law – Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522) – are as follows:

  1. To be eligible, employees must have worked in California for 30 days and for their current employer for 90 days.
  2. Sick leave must accrue at no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked but employers may provide eligible workers 24 hours up front.
  3. Employers must track accrual and use.
  4. While accrued sick leave need to be paid out on separation, those who are rehired within a year get their accrued sick leave reinstated.

Restaurants in California are required to put up new posters displaying information on paid sick leave.  Restaurants also must inform employees of their rights upon hiring new employees and then keep sick leave records for at least three years.  There are a number of other uses allowed for sick time, such as caring for a sick relative, coping with domestic abuse, and of course, actually being sick.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 40% of private sector employees nationwide were not guaranteed paid sick leave as of 2012.  Now under California law, almost all employees are guaranteed sick leave with a few limited exceptions – for example, mandatory paid sick leave does not apply to certain union employees, In-Home Supportive Services providers, or flight attendants.

While restaurants will likely feel additional financial pressure from this new law, hopefully it will encourage sick servers to stay home and will leave healthy servers to handle your lunch.