June 30, 2015

Reminder — California’s Paid Sick Leave Law Takes Effect July 1

The new California paid sick leave law (AB 1522) — which requires that all employees receive a minimum of paid sick leave per year and requires employers to track sick leave accrual and use — takes effect on July 1.

Here is a brief summary of what this change will mean to Western Growers members:

  • Employers must give employees (including seasonal, part-time and/or temporary employees) working at least 30 days a year in California paid sick leave (PSL)
  • Employers must decide to either keep track of each employee’s accrual and use of PSL or include them under existing, more generous ‘Paid Time Off’ policies
  • Employers can rely on existing sick leave or ’Paid Time Off’ policy to comply, but only if their policy meets the laws’ minimum requirements, which include specific notice, accrual, use, and carryover rules
  • Employers must provide employees with one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked. Unused sick leave carries over from year to year, but accrual can be capped at 48 hours. In addition, an employee’s use of PSL can be capped at 24 hours per year. In the alternative, employers can elect to provide three days of PSL for immediate use at the start of each year, in which case any unused leave does not carry over to the next year
  • The Labor Commissioner interprets the “three day” requirement to track the employees’ actual hours. Thus, if an agricultural employee uses PSL and misses three 10-hour days, the employee ostensibly should be paid for 30 hours (not 24) assuming he or she has accrued that many hours
  • Employees’ accrued PSL must be reflected on their pay stub or issued on another sheet of paper simultaneously with paychecks
  • Employers must add a California PSL section to employee handbooks and provide required notices to employees and workplace posters

Employers are advised to review their existing leave, notice and tracking policies and procedures with legal counsel to ensure that they are in compliance with the new law, particularly with regard to seasonal or other workers not historically eligible for leave benefits. The law contains many ambiguities and unanswered questions, so a thorough review of new and existing policies with legal counsel can help minimize the risk of a lawsuit in the future.

Please contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253 for more information.