In addition to implementing a minimum wage rate increase, the ordinance that the Emeryville City Council unanimously approved on June 2, 2015 will provide paid sick leave to employees in Emeryville—over and above what is already provided to employees under state law. The “Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave, And Other Employment Standards” ordinance includes a provision—similar to that of the San Francisco and Oakland paid sick leave laws—requiring employers to allow employees to designate a non-family member for whom they may use their sick leave. It also permits employees to take leave to care for an ill guide dog, signal dog, or service dog. Below are the key components of the new law.

Eligible Employees

Employees of private for-profit and private non-profit employers, in addition to employees of the city, are eligible to accrue paid sick leave. Both part-time and full-time employees are eligible for the leave, as well as temporary employees. Employees may accrue the city’s paid sick leave regardless of their place of residence if they work at least two hours per calendar week within the geographic boundaries of Emeryville.

Accrual Rate

According to the measure, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 2, 2015, employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees may start using accrued sick leave after their 90th day of employment.

Accrual Caps

The maximum amount of paid sick leave hours that employee may accumulate depends on the size of the employer for which they work.

  • Small Businesses. Employees of small businesses, which the ordinance defines as those with 55 or fewer employees within the geographic boundaries of the city of Emeryville, may accrue up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year.
  • Large Businesses. Employees of large business, i.e., those with more than 55 employees, may accrue up to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year.

The ordinance permits employees to carry over their accrued leave subject to these caps.

Designation of Non-Family Members

Employees may use paid sick leave for their own illness or injury (as specified in California Labor Code section 233(b)(4)) or for the illness or injury of a family member (as specified in California Labor Code section 245.5 of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014). The definition of “family member” in the Emeryville ordinance is broader than the definition in the state paid sick leave law in that, like the San Francisco and Oakland sick leave ordinances, it permits employees to designate a non-family member for whom they may take time off.

The Emeryville ordinance permits employees who do not have a spouse or registered domestic partner to “designate one person as to whom the Employee may use paid sick leave to aid or care for that person in lieu of a spouse or registered domestic partner.” Employers must provide employees with notice of their right to designate non-family members no later than 30 days after the employee begins to accrue sick leave.

Employers must provide employees with a 14-day window within which to designate a non-family member. In addition, by January 31 of every year, employers must provide employees with a 14-day window in which to change that designation.

Guide Dogs, Signal Dogs, and Service Dogs

In addition to using sick leave to care for themselves, family members, and/or designated non-family members, Emeryville employees will be able to use the new leave to care for guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs (as defined by the California Disabled Persons Act, Civil Code section 54.1). Employees may use their sick leave to care for their own dog, a family member’s dog, or the dog of the employee’s non-family designee. 

Practical Impact

This measure and the other recent municipal-level sick leave laws provide fertile ground for class action attorneys. Employers should be mindful of the unique requirements of this law and work to update policies and procedures to ensure that they are in full compliance with requirements at the federal, state, and local levels.