Important Info about New Amendments to the California Sick Leave Pay Law
As of July 1, 2015, the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (CHWHFA or Act) has been effect in the state. Among other things, this Act requires employers to provide employees with three paid sick days annually, with few exceptions applying.
Two weeks after the CHWHFA went into effect, however, Governor Jerry Brown signed an amendment to this Act (AB 304), changing certain provisions of the law. Given that AB 304 is now in effect, below, we will point out some of the specific changes enacted by this amendment so that all California employees can be aware of their current rights and entitlements.
How AB 304 Changes the CA Sick Pay Leave Act: What You Should Know
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Some of the most important changes to come out of AB 304 include:
- Defining the employees covered by the Act – While the original Act granted paid sick leave to all employees, AB 304 explains that an employee has to have worked for the same employer for at least 30 days in order to be able to start accruing paid sick leave. Additionally, the amendment granted some exclusions to certain workers (most notably certain construction workers).
- Providing alternative accrual methods for employers to use – AB 304 also provides some options for how employers count employees’ accrued hours of paid sick leave.Specifically, in addition to being able to use hours worked (as the Act originally provided), employers can also use accrual methods based on pay periods, the number of days or weeks worked or other means that still allow this leave too be accrued on a “regular basis,” according to the amendment (so long as the method selected provides for “no less than 24 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period”).
- Placing certain limitations on the use of paid sick leave – This aspect of the amendment grants employers the right to limit how employees use their paid sick leave in that employers can decide that employees have to use this leave within a given year of employment (or a given 12-month period, including a standard calendar year).Similarly, AB 304 explains how accrued time is to be carried over to the following year (or period) and when employers may be exempt from having to carryover accrued leave time.
- Establishing pay rates for this leave – Based on AB 304, employers now have three options for calculating the rate of pay for paid sick leave, effectively enhancing the options provided in the original Act.
- Explaining when accrued paid sick leave is to be reinstated – The amendment provides that when an employee is rehired within 12 months of being let go, the unused paid sick leave that employee accrued prior to being let go must be reinstated unless the employee was already paid for that time (as part of a final check issued upon the last date of separation).
- Clarifying certain recordkeeping provisions – While employers are required to keep records regarding paid sick leave accrued and used by each employee (per the terms of the Act), the amendment clarifies that this recordkeeping does NOT require an employer to document why an employee has used his or her accrued paid sick leave.
Be aware that:
- The above are not the only changes to the Act to come out of AB 304.
- The California Labor Commissioner is still reviewing AB 304 and will be publishing an updated guidance regarding the amendment “soon,” according to the California Department of Industrial Relations’ website.
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