California Employer LAWlert: CA Mandates Paid Sick Leave

The California legislature on Saturday, August 29, passed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Below are the pertinent elements of the law that every employer in California must become familiar with.

Sick Leave Entitlement/Accrual/Use

  • It states that an employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment is entitled to paid sick days.

  • Employees shall accrue paid sick days at the rate of not less than one hour per every 30 hours worked, beginning at the commencement of employment or the operative date of the law, whichever is later. Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per workweek for the purposes of computing accrued sick time, unless the employee’s normal workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case the employees shall accrue paid sick days based upon the normal workweek.

  • An employee shall be entitled to use accrued paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment, after which day the employee may use paid sick days as they are accrued. 

  • Accrued paid sick days shall carry over to the following year of employment. However, an employer may limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment. This section shall be satisfied and no accrual or carry over is required if the full amount of leave is received at the beginning of each year, in accordance with subdivision (e) which states that an employer is not required to provide additional paid sick days pursuant to this section if the employer has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy, the employer makes available an amount of leave that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as specified in this section, and the policy does either of the following:

        (a) Satisfies the accrual, carry over, and use requirements of this section.

        (b) Provides no less than 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave, or equivalent paid leave or paid         time off, for employee use for each year of employment or calendar year or 12-month basis.

  • Except when an employee separates from an employer and is rehired by the employer within one year from the date of separation, an employer is not required to provide compensation to an employee for accrued, unused paid sick days upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment. If the rehire exception applies, that employee shall be entitled to use those previously accrued and unused paid sick days and to accrue additional paid sick days upon rehiring.

  • An employer may lend paid sick days to an employee in advance of accrual, at the employer’s discretion and with proper documentation.

  • All employers shall provide an employee with written notice that sets forth the amount of paid sick leave available, or paid time off leave an employer provides in lieu of sick leave, for use on either the employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the employee’s payment of wages. Violation of this notice provision can result in penalties but an employer will not be subject to both penalties under this section and Section 226. 

  • Employers have no obligation under this section to allow an employee’s total accrual of paid sick leave to exceed 48 hours or 6 days, provided that an employee’s rights to accrue and use paid sick leave under this section are not otherwise limited.

  • An employee may determine how much paid sick leave he or she needs to use, provided that an employer may set a reasonable minimum increment, not to exceed two hours, for the use of paid sick leave.

Rate of Pay/Notice

The rate of pay shall be the employee’s hourly wage. If the employee in the 90 days of employment before taking accrued sick leave had different hourly pay rates, was paid by commission or piece rate, or was a nonexempt salaried employee, then the rate of pay shall be calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.

If the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employee shall provide reasonable advance notification. If the need for paid sick leave is unforeseeable, the employee shall provide notice of the need for the leave as soon as practicable.

An employer shall provide payment for sick leave taken by an employee no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the sick leave was taken.

Purposes for Use of Sick Leave

Upon the oral or written request of an employee, an employer shall provide paid sick days for the following purposes:

(1) Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, an employee or an employee’s family member.

(2) For an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.


An employer shall not require as a condition of using paid sick days that the employee search for or find a replacement worker to cover the days during which the employee uses paid sick days.


An employer shall not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days, attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick days, filing a complaint with the department or alleging a violation of this article, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article, or opposing any policy or practice or act that is prohibited by this article.  There shall be a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation if an employer denies an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharges, threatens to discharge, demotes, suspends, or in any manner discriminates against an employee within 30 days of any of the following:

(A) The filing of a complaint by the employee with the Labor Commissioner or alleging a violation of this article.

(B) The cooperation of an employee with an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article.

(C) Opposition by the employee to a policy, practice, or act that is prohibited by this article.

Posting Requirements

In each workplace of the employer, the employer shall display a poster in a conspicuous place containing all the information specified in subdivision (a). (b). The Labor Commissioner shall create a poster containing this information and make it available to employers. The poster shall state all of the following:

(1) An employee is entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick days.

(2) The amount of sick days provided for by this article.

(3) The terms of use of paid sick days.

(4) That retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests paid sick days or uses paid sick days, or both, is prohibited and that an employee has the right under this article to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates against the employee.

An employer who willfully violates the posting requirements of this section is subject to a civil penalty of not more than one hundred dollars ($100) per each offense.

Maintain Records

Employers shall keep for at least three years records documenting the hours worked and paid sick days accrued and used by an employee, and shall allow the Labor Commissioner to access these records pursuant to the requirements set forth in

Employers shall make these records available to an employee similar to the review protocols under Section 226 and the failure of an employer to maintain adequate records shall result in a presumption that the employee is entitled to the maximum number of hours accruable under this article, unless the employer can show otherwise by clear and convincing evidence.


The Labor Commissioner shall enforce this article, including investigating an alleged violation, and ordering appropriate temporary relief to mitigate the violation or to maintain the status quo pending the completion of a full investigation or hearing.

If the Labor Commissioner, after a hearing that contains adequate safeguards to ensure that the parties are afforded due process, determines that a violation of this article has occurred, he or she may order any appropriate relief, including reinstatement, back pay, the payment of sick days unlawfully withheld, and the payment of an additional sum in the form of an administrative penalty to an employee or other person whose rights under this article were violated.


If paid sick days were unlawfully withheld, the dollar amount of paid sick days withheld from the employee multiplied by three, or two hundred fifty dollars ($250), whichever amount is greater, but not to exceed an aggregate penalty of four thousand dollars ($4,000), shall be included in the administrative penalty.

If a violation of this article results in other harm to the employee or person, such as discharge from employment, or otherwise results in a violation of the rights of the employee or person, the administrative penalty shall include a sum of fifty dollars ($50) for each day or portion thereof that the violation occurred or continued, not to exceed an aggregate penalty of four thousand dollars ($4,000).

Where prompt compliance by an employer is not forthcoming, the Labor Commissioner may take any appropriate enforcement action to secure compliance, including the filing of a civil action. In compensation to the state for the costs of investigating and remedying the violation, the commissioner may order the violating employer to pay to the state a sum of not more than fifty dollars ($50) for each day or portion of a day a violation occurs or continues for each employee or other person whose rights under this article were violated.

An employee or other person may report to the Labor Commissioner a suspected violation of this article. The commissioner shall encourage reporting pursuant to this subdivision by keeping confidential, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, the name and other identifying information of the employee or person reporting the violation. However, the commissioner may disclose that person’s name and identifying information as necessary to enforce this article or for other appropriate purposes, upon the authorization of that person.

The Labor Commissioner or the Attorney General may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the employer or other person violating this article and, upon prevailing, shall be entitled to collect legal or equitable relief on behalf of the aggrieved as may be appropriate to remedy the violation, including reinstatement, backpay, the payment of sick days unlawfully withheld, the payment of an additional sum, not to exceed an aggregate penalty of four thousand dollars ($4,000), as liquidated damages in the amount of fifty dollars ($50) to each employee or person whose rights under this article were violated for each day or portion thereof that the violation occurred or continued, plus, if the employer has unlawfully withheld paid sick days to an employee, the dollar amount of paid sick days withheld from the employee multiplied by three; or two hundred fifty dollars ($250), whichever amount is greater; and reinstatement in employment or injunctive relief; and further shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, provided, however, that any person or entity enforcing this article on behalf of the public as provided for under applicable state law shall, upon prevailing, be entitled only to equitable, injunctive, or restitutionary relief, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

In an administrative or civil action brought under this article, the Labor Commissioner or court, as the case may be, shall award interest on all amounts due and unpaid.  Employers shall not be assessed any penalty or liquidated damages under this article due to an isolated and unintentional payroll error or written notice error that is a clerical or an inadvertent mistake regarding the accrual or available use of paid sick leave. In reviewing for compliance with this section, the factfinder may consider as a relevant factor whether the employer, prior to an alleged violation, has adopted and is in compliance with a set of policies, procedures, and practices that fully comply with this section.

HIPAA Privacy

The law does not limit or affect any laws guaranteeing the privacy of health information, or information related to domestic violence or sexual assault, regarding an employee or employee’s family member. That information shall be treated as confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person except to the affected employee, or as required by law.

We hope you found this information of value. Please do not hesitate to contact Holman HR with any questions you may have.