California just gave your employees three free sick days a year.
Over the Labor Day holiday weekend, California became the second state (Connecticut was first) to guarantee annual paid sick time off for most all employees – full and part-time. Today, Governor Brown signed the bill.
The “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act,” requires – Beginning on July 1, 2015 – that public and private employers must provide eligible employees – (You are eligible if you work 30 or more days within a year after being hired) – with sick leave “at the rate of not less than one hour per every 30 hours worked.” Salaried, exempt employees are deemed to work a 40 hour workweek. Exemptions exist for employees covered by some collective bargaining agreements, some construction industry workers, home healthcare workers, and certain airline employees who are already covered by the federal Railway Labor Act.
The law also requires employers to carry over unused sick leave time from year to year, but employees may be limited to use no more than 24 hours or three days per year. The bill also mandates that employers provide written notice of available sick leave on the itemized wage statement California law already requires or in a separate notice in each pay period.
Employers are well served to review this new law with their legal counsel and make plans to implement no less than the legally mandated minimum.
Employer questions abound.
- Can I fire an employee who falsely claims to be sick and uses the “sick leave” to play at the beach?
- Can I reduce the amount of vacation time that I already awarded employees to make up for the forced sick time benefit?
- Do I have to pay terminated employees the unused sick leave accrual?
Review your Employee Policies, Handbooks and Guides.
Many, if not most, of our clients have written Employee Handbooks or Policy Manuals that specifically set forth all compensation terms and benefits. We regular review many of these policies for completeness, relevance and inclusion of the latest government mandates. Even though most of the policy statements that we review do include some kind of sick leave benefit, all employers will be well served to review their policies anew to insure that they are in compliance with this latest California mandate.
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