Allevity Blog

Paid Sick Leave Amendments

Sep 15, 2015

We all know the state of California prides itself on being progressive when it comes to workers’ rights, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that in 2014, California became the second state ever to mandate paid sick leave. Those requirements officially went into effect on July 1, 2015. And of course, there have already been some amendments made. Those went into effect immediately upon being signed by the governor on July 13, 2015.

Just when you think you know what to expect!

Here’s what you need to know about paying your employees, even when they are home with the flu. 

The Law

The new guidelines were a part of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 and apply to both public and private work sectors. They required all employers (doesn’t matter how large or small) to provide all employees (both full and part time) with paid sick leave. Of course, how much paid sick leave each employee gets has a lot to do with how much they work.

But we’ll get to that. 

Who

There are some limits on who qualifies for paid leave, the main one being that those who qualify must work 30 or more days in California within a year of being hired. There was a bit of confusion regarding this stipulation, so one of the amendments worked to clarify questions. Basically, employees have to work 30 days for the same employer within a year of employment in order to benefit from paid sick leave.  

How Much

This is where it gets a little confusing, as there are a few different methods employers can use to determine how much sick leave an employee is due. You can choose to have them accrue an hour of leave for every 30 hours of work they put in, for instance, or choose to award them with a lump sum – giving them the full amount of leave at the start of each year. The amendments provide for a few other options as well. But ultimately, no matter how you choose to allow your employees to accrue sick leave – they should be given no less than 24 hours per year. The amendments make it clear that by “year,” employers can infer either the 120th calendar day of employment, each calendar year, or each 12-month period. 

The Limits

Employers are entitled to enact a few different limits and regulations when it comes to paid sick leave. For one, they can stipulate that employees must work for the company for 90 days before being able to use their sick leave accrual. They can also limit the amount of paid sick leave an employee uses every year to 24 hours or three days, total. 

Unused sick days must carry forward to the following year, but unlike with PTO, employers can cap how much sick leave an employee accrues, limiting their banks to no more than 48 hours at a time. Should an employee reach that cap, they would cease accumulating additional sick leave until the point, if or when, they use some of their hours. Similarly, accrued sick leave is not eligible for payout upon termination of employment. 

Other Good Amendment News

As previously written, the new law required a “90-day look back” method for calculating sick leave pay. This created some confusion for employees who had different rates of pay over those 90-day periods, or employees who were paid commissions or piece rates. The amendments allow for those rates to now be calculated with a “weighted average,” in the same way overtime pay would be calculated. 

The law also created some confusion for employers who offer unlimited PTO, as it requires employers to provide written notice of available sick leave to employees with each payday period. The amendments made it clear those employers could simply write “unlimited” in the required statements. 

As you can see, the amendments mostly worked to clear up confusion the original law left behind. So if you have questions, check out those amendments first – they may prove to be the answer you are looking for. 

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