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Protected Paid Sick Leave Increases to Five Days Per Year Under California State Law

With the stated purpose of encouraging sick employees to stay home to stop the spread of COVID and other contagious diseases in the workplace, California Governor Newsom signed SB 616, expanding the state’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2016 to increase the guaranteed number of paid sick days that can accrue and be used. 

SB 616 mandates that employees be permitted to use at least 40 hours or five days (whichever is greater) of paid sick leave per year. This is an increase from employees’ current entitlement to three days or 24 hours, whichever is greater, of paid sick leave.

Under both the prior and amended versions of the law, employers who provide sick leave on an accrual basis (e.g. 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked) must carry over accrued and unused paid sick leave to the next year of employment. Whereas employers could implement a cap of six days or 48 hours under the current law, employers will now be required to cap the accrual of paid sick leave at ten days (80 hours). This accrual cap is a temporary cap, meaning an employee stops accruing once the employee accumulates an amount of leave that equals the cap amount. However, once they use enough leave to fall below the cap, they immediately start accruing leave again.

Under state law, employers who frontload paid sick leave by granting a “lump-sum” amount at the beginning of each year or 12-month period are not required to allow employees to “carryover” their frontloaded leave. However, some cities, such as Los Angeles, have enacted ordinances that may require employers to carryover unused time even when leave is frontloaded.

Finally, under the amended law, employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will now have additional rights, including the ability to use the leave to care for family members or in instances of domestic violence and to be protected from retaliation.

We'll be discussing this topic and additional new employment laws during our webinar on Thursday, November 9. If you would like an invite, email [email protected]

Categories: Compliance, Paid Sick Leave