On August 3, 2016, the mayor of San Diego signed a new Implementing Ordinance that will provide for several changes to the city’s new paid sick leave law. As noted in our previous post on July 12, 2016, the San Diego City Council had considered changing the law shortly after it was passed because the ordinance seemed to create conflicting obligations with the statewide mandate. For example, while the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 permits capping annual sick leave accrual and allows employers to avoid carrying over sick leave from one year to the next (under the practice of providing all required hours at the beginning of each calendar year, i.e., the “upfront method”), the San Diego Ordinance did not. The new amendments, however, address these issues and provide additional clarity for employers seeking to comply with both laws.

The revised ordinance, which goes into effect on September 2, 2016, now provides that all employers may:

  • cap paid sick leave accrual at 80 hours; and
  • provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick leave at the beginning of each calendar year (the “upfront” or “front load” method).

This means that, like the statewide mandate, employers may choose to follow either the “accrual method,” in which an employee must earn at least 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked (with an assumption of a 40 hour workweek for salaried employees), or the “upfront method,” in which an employer provides the employee with all his or her allotted sick leave at the beginning of each benefit year. If the employer elects the “accrual method,” the employer must allow the employee to use at least 40 hours of paid sick leave each year and may cap total accrual for that year to 80 hours, but any unused hours must be carried over to the next year. If the employer elects to use the “upfront method,” the employer must provide at least 40 hours of sick leave for an employee to use at the beginning of each benefit year. However, the employer need not carry over any unused hours to the next year.

Although employers must still ensure that they are complying with both the statewide mandate and the San Diego ordinance (whenever their employees perform any work within the city of San Diego), these new amendments should assist employers in doing so, since the underlying framework between the two laws is now similar.