Client Bulletin: Update on New Sick Leave Law

June 4, 2015Article
Greenberg Glusker Client Alert

Employers are scrambling to comply with the notice and leave requirements of the new California sick leave law. This law applies to employers of all sizes, from those who employ individuals in their homes to companies that employ thousands of employees. It covers all types of employees, including interns, part-time and seasonal workers. Although notice requirements took effect on January 1, 2015, employers may delay changing their actual sick leave policies until July 1, 2015.

Posting and Notice Requirements

As of January 1, 2015, employers were required to:

1. Post information about the new law in a conspicuous location.  A link to an approved poster is here.

2. Provide individual notices to both new and existing employees regarding new sick leave policies.

There is some confusion about the notice requirement. California law, specifically the Wage Theft Protection Act, requires employers to distribute written notices to new non-exempt employees with information regarding wages, workers’ compensation coverage, and now, compliance with the new sick leave law. Most employers use the approved notice (Notice) that is posted on the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) website for these purposes. The Notice can be accessed here. The DLSE, in addition to providing the Notice, is also charged with interpreting and enforcing the new sick leave law.

The Notice must be completed and provided to all nonexempt employees hired on or after January 1, 2015, at their time of hire (but it is never too late to provide the Notice if you have not done so already).

The DLSE also posts a helpful link for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which can be accessed here. The FAQs inform us that the Notice must be given to all nonexempt employees not only at the time of hire but also at the time any information on the Notice changes. As an example, if an employer changed its sick leave policy on January 1, 2015, then information about the change needed to be given to existing employees at that time.  (Again, it is never too late to provide the Notice.) Use of the Notice is not strictly required; however, the new information must be communicated in a separate written document containing the required information. Thus, if you have distributed a new handbook or sick leave policy to employees (hopefully with an acknowledgment form for the employee to sign), then you can bypass the use of the Notice for existing non-exempt employees.

Employers who wait until July 1, 2015, to change their sick-leave policies may wait until that time to provide either the Notice or another written document to their existing employees notifying them of the change.

The FAQs also state (somewhat confusingly) that even if an employer’s existing sick leave policy complies with the new law and no changes are made, the Notice must be distributed to existing employees containing information about the sick leave law. Although the statute only requires notices to be given to non-exempt employees, we recommend that for any change in policy, written notification of the change be distributed to all affected employees.

Questions about Sick Leave Policies

Some questions have now been answered by the DLSE, but other questions remain. One common question, which is how to determine sick leave entitlement for part-time employees, has been answered. If a part-time employee is provided three sick days, as an example, the three days are considered 24 hours (the minimum required under the law). If the part-time employee regularly works five hour days, and one sick day is considered five hours, the employee will, therefore, have 19 hours remaining.

Questions about the new sick leave law and notice obligations can be directed to attorneys in our Employment Law Group.