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New Paid Sick Leave Law Comes Into Effect July 1st in California

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on June 22, 2015 3:58 PM

Just in time for your hay fever, fireworks injuries, and debilitating sunburns, expanded sick leave rights are coming to California workers. Starting the first of July, the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act will give California workers access to paid sick leave if they work over 30 days a year. The bill allows employees to earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

The new law is expected to expand paid sick leave to millions of workers who previously had little access to leave or no paid sick leave at all. The Act should cover about three quarters of California's low-wage workers and applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary workers.

For Employees

The law is expected to improve the lot of millions of workers, labor activists say. When workers are forced to pick between getting paid or going to the doctor, many will come in to work, potentially passing their illness along to others. 

Advocates of the new sick leave law hope that paid leave, not summer flu, will become contagious. In California, while paid sick leave begins accruing on the 1st, employees have to wait until their 90th day of employment in order to being taking paid sick days. They can't be required to find a replacement and the law protects against punishment or retaliation.

Unused paid sick time can roll over between years, but may be capped by employers. For example, employers may limit paid leave to 24 hours or three days in any year, and may cap total accrual at 48 hours or six days when carrying time over from year to year.

Paid sick leave isn't limited to employees, either. California is one of only four states to require paid sick leave which extends to the care of family members. Any worker can use their leave to take care of a family member or child, so long as that paid sick leave is for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of "an existing health condition or preventative care." Time may also be used for specific purposes around domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

For Employers

Employers can expect a bit more of a burden as the law goes into effect. For companies who have yet to institute any paid sick leave, the new paid time off will carry a cost. Employers should start planning to deal with the changes ASAP.

Employers aren't just required to pay out for sick leave, either. They should get ready to add another poster to their employee informational materials -- though it's a small one. They will also have to provide employees with written notice about sick leave rights and track untaken sick leave, making that information available to workers on their pay stubs or similar documents. Failure to do so could result in an investigation by the state Labor Commission, which can result in hefty fines.

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