On September 10, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law AB 1522 (Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014), which requires all California employers, large or small, to provide employees paid sick leave (with limited exceptions for certain industries and employees under particular collective bargaining agreements). The Act will become effective on July 1, 2015, and it provides for the following:

  • Employees must accrue paid sick time at a rate of one hour for every thirty (30) hours worked.  Exempt employees accrue based on a presumed forty (40) hour workweek, or their normal scheduled workweek, whichever is less.
  • Accrued, unused sick time must be carried over to the following year, but employers can limit the number of sick days taken in a calendar year to three days.  In addition, they can limit or cap maximum accrual of sick time to six days.  Alternatively, employers need not track accrual or carry over accrued time if they provide the full three days at the beginning of each year.   
  • Although employees begin accruing sick time on the date of hire, accrued time can only be used starting on the ninetieth (90th) day of employment.
  • Sick time can be used for the employee’s own illness, or to take time off to care for ill family members or for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Employers are not required to pay out accrued, unused sick time upon separation of employment. 
  • Employers that already provide paid sick time, or paid time off policies that can be used for sick leave, need not provide additional leave under the Act if their plans provide at least the same amount of leave and under the same or more favorable conditions as provided for under the Act.
  • Employers subject to more favorable local paid sick leave ordinances (e.g., San Francisco) must continue to comply with such ordinances.

The Act has additional notice and recordkeeping requirements. Failure to comply with the Act can result in various penalties and the Act prohibits retaliation against employees for taking accrued sick time (including a rebuttable presumption of retaliation within thirty days of an employee exercising protected rights under the Act).