Preparation for California’s New Paid Sick Leave

As you’ve heard, California’s new paid sick leave law (AB 1522, also known as the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 or “HW/HF”) was effective on January 1, 2015. The most critical part of the law becomes effective on July 1, 2015 wherein all employees must begin earning paid sick leave under an accrual or a front load method. The law requires employers to grant all employees an accrual of one hour for every 30 hours worked; or front load 24 hours or 3 days each 12 month period.

We will be working with our retained services clients to assist in determining the best approach to take in complying with the new law. There are several “moving parts” to the law and more parts that are yet to be clarified by the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Even if your employees currently receive paid sick leave, the new law includes provisions and requirements that your policy and practices likely do not reflect. Employers should not assume that as long as all employees are granted 24 or more hour of sick leave annually that everything is “good to go” for HW/HF compliance.

Here are some short term decisions employers should be reviewing in preparation for the new endeavor:

  1. Determine if your current sick leave or Paid Time Off (PTO) program allows ALL employees to earn at least the minimum sick leave hours required. (With very few exceptions, HW/HF applies to all regular exempt and non-exempt  full-time and part-time, temporary, paid interns, intermittent and per diem employees.)
  2. If “no” to #1, then determine if you will use the accrual or front load method. (You may offer different methods to different employee classifications, but no less than 24 hrs or 3 days.)
  3. Determine if your current sick leave/PTO policy covers all the new HW/HF requirements. (It likely does not.)
  4. Verify that your payroll service or HRIS can track and print sick/PTO hours for paycheck stubs or create a separate document each pay period.
  5. If you offer no sick leave currently, budget for this expense.

Silvers HR will be in touch with each of our retained clients in the spring to assist in fleshing out the decisions and preparing a new policy. We’re awaiting more clarification from the DLSE on several gaps in the new law. We do not recommend employers publish a HW/HF paid sick leave policy yet.

The DLSE has recently updated its Frequently Asked Questions link (www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm) addressing several issues.  We encourage you to check this out.