October 26, 2023

California Amends its Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act

California’s newly signed SB 616 amends the state’s Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA) by increasing accrual/frontloading paid sick leave mandates from 24 hours (3 days) to 40 hours (5 days) and increasing cap amounts to 80 hours.

Currently, with certain exceptions, the HWHFA entitles an employee to paid sick days if the employee works in California for the same employer for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who use paid sick days or imposing specific conditions on the use of paid sick days (e.g., requiring the use of paid sick days for specified health care and situations).

SB 616 not only increases the number of paid sick days available to employees, but also extends the use of paid sick days to employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement.

Key provisions of the newly expanded HWHFA include:

  • Raising the employer’s authorized limitation on the use of carryover sick leave to 40 hours or 5 days in each year of employment.
  • Redefines “full amount of leave” to mean 40 hours or 5 days.
  • Allowing eligible employees, subject to an employer’s existing paid leave or paid time off policy, to earn at least 40 hours or 5 days of sick leave or paid time off within 6 months of employment.
  • An increase in the total allowable accrual to 80 hours or 10 days.
  • The preemption of local ordinances that contradict the HWHFA when it comes to provisions on, among other things, compensation for accrued, unused paid sick days upon specified employment events, the lending of paid sick days to employees, written notice requirements, the calculation of paid sick leave, reasonable advance notification requirements, and payment of sick leave taken.

Employers should begin updating current paid sick leave policies ahead of the January 1, 2024 compliance date. It is also important to note that the state’s increase in paid sick leave may still fall below the amount(s) required by certain municipalities. Employers should consult counsel or check local municipalities websites to determine if their policies remain compliant.