Executive Summary: On November 4, 2014, voters in the City of Oakland passed a measure mandating paid sick leave for eligible employees. The city has become the third city in California (after San Francisco and San Diego) to require paid sick leave for employees, and follows on the heels of California's own recently passed paid sick leave law, which requires paid sick leave for the entire state.
Under the new measure, which goes into effect March 2, 2015, employers are required to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave rather than the minimum 24 hours provided by state law. The new ordinance also allows employees to carry over more unused paid sick leave than permitted under state law. Further, unlike the state's law, Oakland's measure permits employees to designate certain non-family members for whom they can use their paid sick leave. Similar to state law, the new ordinance does not require an employer to pay an employee for unused leave at the time of the employee's separation from employment.
Employers should be aware that California's new paid sick leave law does not preempt or limit other applicable laws that provide greater sick leave benefits to employees. Thus, in Oakland, for example, an employee covered by both the state and city law would be entitled to 72 hours of paid sick leave as provided by the city ordinance instead of the minimum 24 hours as provided by state law. At the same time, the state's paid sick leave law may provide greater rights than provided by a local or city government's laws. For example, while the state's new law permits employers to grant paid sick leave at the beginning of each year, neither Oakland's recently passed measure, nor the laws affecting employees in San Francisco, allow for this method. Additionally, state law prohibits employers, regardless of size, from setting accrual caps that are lower than 48 hours, calling into question both San Francisco's and Oakland's ordinances on this topic.
A comparison table showing some key differences in each jurisdiction's paid sick leave laws is found below (note that San Diego's paid sick leave ordinance has recently been placed on referendum, to be decided by the city's voters in June 2016):
Click here to view table.
Employers are strongly urged to have their sick time and leave policies reviewed to ensure compliance with both state and local laws.