What the Sick Leave Act Means for California Employers

On July 15, 2015, the playing field will change for human resources staff throughout California. That’s the date on which the state’s “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” will kick in.

The new law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 10, 2014, requires California employers of all sizes to provide paid sick leave for employees. With this law in place, California becomes only the second U.S. state to mandate paid sick leave – and the first one to require employers with fewer than 50 employees to provide paid sick leave.

Although some California localities have passed or considered passing ordinances that require paid sick leave, the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act” applies to businesses statewide.

What does the new law mean for California employers? Here are some highlights:

  1. Broad Scope. Unlike Connecticut, the only other U.S. state to require paid sick leave, California’s new law applies to nearly every employer, regardless of size. Employees are covered if they work 30 or more days per year for a company. These employees must earn paid sick leave at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, and must be allowed to start using their paid sick leave no more than 90 days after they begin working. Employers may choose, but are not required to, “lend” paid sick leave days to employees who are ill but who have not yet accrued paid sick leave under the act.
  2. The Act vs. Collective Bargaining Agreements. Like many California labor laws, the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act does not apply to employees who are covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), if the CBA’s sick leave provisions are more generous than those in the new law, and if the CBA covers certain other areas of employment law, like wages and overtime. Similarly, workers in the construction, airline, and rail industries may also be exempted from coverage under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
  3. Notice, Postings, and Records. Like other labor laws, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act imposes certain paperwork and notice requirements on employers, such as providing new employees with information about the law and keeping records of paid sick leave accrued and used.
  4. Retaliation and Enforcement. The new law prohibits discrimination or retaliation against employees who use their accrued sick days or who act as “whistleblowers” regarding an employer’s violation of the sick leave policy. If an employer takes an “adverse employment action” against a whistleblower or an employee who cooperates with a Labor Commission investigation, the action may be used as evidence of unlawful retaliation that the employer will be required to rebut. Working with an attorney can help a California business ensure it understands and meets the requirements of the new law.

At Marquee Staffing, our experienced recruiters can help you find the right people to help your business thrive – no matter what legal changes it faces in 2015. Contact us today to learn more.