California employers should take note of the recently passed mandatory sick leave law requiring all employers, regardless of size, to provide at least three days of annual paid sick leave to workers beginning July 1, 2015. With Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (Assembly Bill 1522) on September 10, 2014, California has become the second state in the country, after Connecticut, to provide paid days off for employees who are ill.
Under the new law, workers shall accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, to be capped at three days per year or more at the employer’s discretion. Employees would be entitled to use the accrued sick days after 90 days of employment and any unused sick leave may be carried over to the following year of employment. The law does not require employers to pay out unused sick days upon termination nor does it require employers who have a paid time off policy to provide additional paid sick days. It excludes from its coverage in-home supportive services workers and workers covered by collective bargaining agreements that provide for paid sick leave. Employers that have in place policies that provide at least three days of paid time off that may be used for sick leave and allow for carryover of the paid time off to the next year will likely be in compliance with the new law. However, employers are advised to review their policies to ensure that the accrual for paid time off is compliant with the new law.
Employers that fail to provide the mandatory sick leave are subject to penalties of $250 or three times the value of the paid sick days withheld, whichever is greater, but not to exceed an aggregate penalty of $4,000. Liquidated damages of $50 for each employee for each day of the violation may also be imposed.