On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1522 (the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014”) and made California the second state in the nation (after Connecticut) to enact a state-wide law requiring most California employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. This marks the latest development in a growing trend that has seen similar paid sick leave laws enacted in other jurisdictions in recent years, mostly at the city level, including in Seattle in 2012, in Portland, OR in 2013, and in Eugene, OR in 2014.
Under the California law, most California employees who work 30 or more days within a year will accrue one hour of paid sick leave at their regular rate of pay for every 30 hours worked. The law also imposes new notice and recordkeeping requirements onto California employers.
The law allows employees to carry over accrued paid sick days from one year to the next. Employers, however, are allowed to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days a year and to cap accrued paid sick leave at either 48 hours or 6 days. While an employer is not obligated to pay out accrued but unused paid sick leave at termination, if an employee separates from an employer and is rehired within one year from the date of separation, previously accrued and unused paid sick days must be reinstated. If an employer already has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy, it is not required to provide additional paid sick days under the new law so long as its existing policy satisfies certain requirements, including making available an amount of leave that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as specified in the Act.