Last month, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA) was signed into law, providing almost every employee working in California with paid sick leave and providing employers with a deadline to comply: July 1, 2015.
Under the new law, employers of any size must provide employees working in the state for more than 30 days with at least three paid days of sick leave in their first year of employment. Employees must be permitted to use this sick leave not only for their own illness or tending to a family member, but also in instances of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Employers can elect to provide paid sick leave in one of two ways:
Accrual method — employees earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work. Access to accrued paid sick leave is immediate; employers cannot impose a probationary period. Accrued paid sick leave that is unused may be carried over to the next year, but employers can cap this carryover up to 48 hours.
Lump sum method — employees are awarded 24 hours of paid sick leave upfront.
In addition, employers will be required to provide detailed reporting as follows:
- Notifying employees of their entitlement to paid sick leave.
- Providing a table on every paycheck that shows the number of paid sick leave hours accrued and used.
- Keep records of each employee’s accrued and used paid sick leave for a minimum of three years.
The new law does not require employers to pay for unused paid sick leave at the termination of employment; however, if the employee rejoins the company within one year, the employer must provide him or her with full reinstatement of their accrued and unused paid sick leave, if any.
Employers that already have paid sick leave policies must ensure that these policies comply with the new law. Because of the complexities of HWHFA, employers are advised to have their sick leave policies reviewed by a California employment attorney to ensure they comply with the new law.
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