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Understanding California's Paid Sick Leave

In the year since California lawmakers approved a new paid sick leave law, legislators and state authorities have spent a lot of time trying to explain what the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act means to employees and employers. The confusion prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to sign another measure to amend the law to provide further clarification.

What employers and employees should know:

  • Except for a few specific types of employees, all workers, including part-time and seasonal workers, are eligible for paid sick leave if they work at least 30 days for the same employer during a 12-month time frame.
  • Employers may comply with the law in various ways. In general, the minimum amount of paid sick leave an employee earns per year is three days. The law also caps the number of paid sick days an employee can accrue.
  • At least three days of sick time must be available to the employee to use by the 120th day of employment.
  • Some California cities have passed laws affording even more paid sick time.
  • Employees must satisfy a 90-day probationary period before using any paid sick time.
  • Employees can use paid sick time to take care of themselves or a family member who is ill.

The requirements of the law for accrual and usage can be difficult to understand, especially if a person does not have experience in this area of the law. The best way to find out whether an employer is meeting the requirements is to consult with an experienced employment law attorney.

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations, "Frequently Asked Questions About California Paid Sick Leave," July 19, 2016.

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