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Another State Requires Paid Sick Time

We have reported on jurisdictions such as New York City and Connecticut passing sick leave laws.  We can now add California to this growing list.  The Golden State recently passed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 requiring employers to provide sick leave to their employees.

California’s new law is structured similarly to other recently-passed sick leave laws, with a notice provision, a common accrual structure, and an anti-retaliation provision.  Employees who work in California for thirty days or more within a year from the time they start their employment (or from the date the law went into effect, whichever is later) accrue paid sick time at a rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked.  They can start to use the sick time on the 90th day of employment.  Exempt employees are deemed to work forty hours a week, or less if their normal workweek is less, for purposes of the law.  Employees can accrue up to forty eight hours (six days) of sick time a year and can carry over unused time to the next year.  However, employers only have to allow employees to use twenty four hours (three days) of sick time a year.  Employees can use their sick time for diagnosis, care, treatment of an existing health condition, preventative care for an employee or employee’s family member, or if the employee is the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking.

The law also includes strict anti-retaliation provisions.  An employer cannot deny an employee the right to use accrued sick time, discharge or threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or otherwise discriminate against the employee for using or attempting to use sick time.  Employees are also protected if they file a complaint or cooperate in an investigation regarding the use of sick time.  Additionally, if the employer does any of these prohibited actions within thirty days of the employee filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, cooperating with an investigation, or otherwise opposing a prohibited policy, practice or act, there is a rebuttable presumption that the employer unlawfully retaliated against the employee.  This means the onus is on the employer to prove his/her actions did not amount to retaliation.

California’s law continues the trend of requiring employers to provide their employees with paid sick time.  It seems more and more jurisdictions are taking notice of this new way of providing time off for employees.  We will continue to monitor these laws and will report on them if more are enacted.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.