by Susan Breslauer, SPHR-CA

As you know, California’s new paid sick leave law (AB 1522, also known as the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014) was signed by Governor Brown in September. The most critical part of the law requiring employers to grant all employees at least 24 hours of paid sick leave each year becomes effective on July 1, 2015.  However, there are other parts of the law that become effective on January 1, 2015. These will require action on your part by the end of this month. 

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has issued a Frequently Asked Questions link (www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm) addressing several issues. 

 In the meantime, there are the actions you must take to be prepared for Jan 1st:

  1. Sick Leave poster up by 1/1/2015 – The DLSE has published a new Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act poster which you will find at this link:  https://www.dir.ca.gov/DLSE/Publications/Paid_Sick_Days_Poster_Template_(11_2014).pdf.  This must be posted in the workplace by Jan 1, 2015. 
  2. Any non-exempt (hourly) employees hired on or after January 1, 2015 must receive the newly revised Notice to Employee form (also called the Wage Theft Prevention Act Notice or  WTPA)  which can be found at this link: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DLSE/Publications/LC_2810.5_Notice_(Revised-11_2014).pdf. This is now available on the DLSE website.  (The Notice to Employee form has been required to be given to all non-exempt employees since 2012.) It is important to use the new form for non-exempt hires in 2015 and beyond. Employers may use it now for new hires prior to 1/1/2015.

The newly revised WTPA form has a new section on paid sick leave.  This may be confusing to employees as the paid sick accrual is not required until July 1, 2015.  If you are one of our retained clients and do not currently have a sick leave program you may find on our password protected HR library a sample amendment notice to employees hired between January 1 until June 30, 2015.

Our legal counsel has advised the following:  If an employer is not offering sick leave until July 1, 2015, the law is unclear about whether it must give current employees an amended WTPA notice on January 1, 2015, addressing sick leave.  We do not think the legislature or the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) intended to require employers to do so; however, it is clear that employers must distribute new notices to current non-exempt employees when they start providing sick leave (on July 1, 2015, or earlier). 

  1. Wage statement (pay stub) notice of paid sick leave available each pay period – Each pay period employers must provide a written notice of the amount of paid sick leave available for each employee.  This may be printed on the employee’s wage statement (also known as the pay stub) or on a separate written document attached to the check or direct deposit notice. In case your payroll service is not able to print this information by January 1, 2015, our retained clients may find a sample sick leave tracking sheet on our HR library. However, the new law is also not clear about the required date for employers to publish this information – on January 1 or July 1, 2015. Our legal counsel has noted: Again, we doubt the legislature or the DLSE intended to require employers to do so before actually offering sick leave.  But, if an employer already offers sick leave or PTO, we recommend including those accruals on the pay stub as of January 1.  If an employer does not already offer sick leave or PTO, it should include accruals on the wage statement as soon as it starts providing the leave (and no later than July 1, 2015).
  2. Sick Leave Accrual/Use Recordkeeping – Employers are required to retain at least three years of records noting the number of hours each employee worked and the PTO or paid sick leave  accrued and used by each individual. In the absence of clear direction in the law, we recommend you begin this recordkeeping as soon as you begin providing the leave (and no later than July 1, 2015). Again, our retained clients may use the sample sick leave tracking sheet located on our HR Library in the absence of an immediate payroll program.

There are still many gaps to be filled in on the requirements. We will finalize the creation of sample policies and work with each of our retained clients to customize these once we have more complete information from the state and the Labor Commissioner.  It may be spring 2015 before all components are fleshed out.   We don’t want to commit to more than the law requires by “jumping the gun.” Please be patient as we await more direction.