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California Paid Sick Leave: Frequently Asked Questions


Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 3 on April 4, 2016, amending the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Subscribe to get email alerts of any updates related to the paid sick leave law

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This document contains answers to questions that are frequently asked about California's new Paid Sick Leave law (AB 1522, operative January 1, 2015, and as amended in AB 304 effective July 13, 2015).

DIR has updated the FAQ list originally posted in February 2015 to reflect new requirements under AB 304. This newer document also clarifies previous responses given in answer to questions received from members of the public.

Eligibility for paid sick leave under the new law

When does the new law take effect? How do I qualify for paid sick leave? What if I work less than 30 days in California within a year? What if I work more than 30 days in California within a year but less than 90 days? When am I entitled to take paid sick leave? Why does the law take effect January 1, 2015 if I don’t begin accruing until July 1, 2015? Does paid sick leave apply to all employees who work in California? What if I am employed by a staffing agency?

How do qualifying employees accrue and take paid sick leave

If I qualify, how much paid sick leave am I entitled to take and be paid for? How is the year measured? Can my employer provide or advance paid sick leave to me prior to my accrual of sufficient paid leave time or prior to meeting the 90-day employment requirement? Why does the law let me accrue more time than I could use in a year? What happens if I am a seasonal employee and I only work 60 days one year but return to the same employer within one year and work another 60 days? What happens if I return to work for the same employer after more than one year? If I work part time, six hours per day, I have accrued 24 hours of paid sick leave and I take three paid sick days, can my employer refuse to allow me to take any more sick leave in that same year?

Employer policies can provide more paid sick leave but not less

What happens when an employer has its own Paid Time Off (PTO) plan? How does an employer satisfy the provision for putting the full amount of leave into my leave bank under the alternative “up-front” (or advance) method for providing paid sick leave? Under the accrual method, can I carry over unused sick leave from one year to the next? My employer provides paid time off which I can use for vacation or illness. Will my employer have to provide additional sick leave? My company offers unlimited time off. How does the new law affect me?

For what purposes can an employee take paid sick leave

What can I use sick leave for? Do I have to notify my employer before taking sick leave?

Payment and tracking of earned and taken leave

When I take paid sick leave, will I get paid as I normally do for the applicable pay period? How much will I get paid? How will I know how much sick leave I have accrued? Does my employer have to document the reason I use paid sick leave? How does the new law fit in with local sick leave ordinances? What if I work an alternative work schedule of four 10-hour days and I take paid sick leave. How much should I be paid? Do I have the right to cash out my unused sick days, like I can with vacation and paid time off?

Required information to be provided to employees

How will I learn of my rights to paid sick leave from my employer? How will I know if my employer's policy has different terms from the paid sick leave law? Does my employer have to issue new notices to employees who were hired prior to January 1, 2015? If I already work under an existing paid leave policy or sick leave policy which is in writing and my employer states it complies with the new law and will not be changed as a result of this law, will I still get individual notice?

May 2016