Labor & Employment Law Update – Paid Sick Leave – Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014

On August 29, 2014, the California Legislature passed a statewide paid sick leave law and the Governor signed it into law on September 9, 2014. The Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB1522) takes effect in California July 1, 2015, requiring nearly all California employers to provide up to 3 paid sick days per year for California employees who work at least 30 days in a year. It is prudent for employers to begin early to understand the new sick leave law and be ready do put it into practice.

Under the new law, employees will accrue sick days at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked and can use these sick days for their own health condition or that of a family member, a term that is broadly defined, as well as by victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Employers must keep the employees apprised of how many days they have accrued, must display available sick days on a pay stub or a document issued on the same day as a paycheck, and educate the employees on their right to use and carry over those days.

Every employer should review and update their policies, update their pay records as well as ensure accurate accrual and carryover of unused leave. Even employers with a Paid Time Off policy must ensure that it meets the new accrual requirements, carry over requirements and that it applies to all employees. Employers are required to display posters on paid sick leave and provide written notice to employees at time of hire.

This will significantly impact employers with seasonal employees since, even though employers are not required to pay out accrued sick time at termination, they must keep a record and, if the employee is rehired in less than a year, the accrued paid sick time must be reinstated.

Managers should be trained since the law does not require the employee to substantiate taking a sick day for themselves or a family member. Currently there is no recourse for an employer even when employees clearly misuse their sick leave – at least until interpretive regulations are issued or courts review the statute and render guidance for discipline when an employee misuses their sick leave. In fact, there are broad anti-retaliation prohibitions enforceable by the Labor Commissioner or the Attorney General with administrative penalties and damages meant to ensure employers do not retaliate or discriminate against the employee for using their paid sick leave.

California has joined a growing number of jurisdictions mandating employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, including part-time and temporary workers. Residents have voted “yes” on ballots every time they have had an opportunity to require employers to offer workers paid sick leave. President Obama has presented his proposal for universal paid sick days and, earlier this year, has called on Congress to pass a bill that would give workers up to 7 paid sick days per year stating this would boost productivity, reduce employee turnover and encourage more moms to stay in the workforce. Critics predict that the changes are not necessary and, if implemented, would result in lower pay.

It is important to note that this California statewide law explicitly states that it establishes minimum requirements on sick time and does not preempt or limit other laws or policies that provide for greater accrual or use of paid sick time. The more expansive San Francisco and Oakland (and San Diego if passed in June 2016) paid sick time laws still apply and other cities in California may continue to pass broader paid sick time laws. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks sick leave but does not require workers to be paid during the time off. In addition, in California the California Family Rights Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act apply to employers with 50 or more employees. The Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act of 2014 applies to all employers in the state and provides for paid sick leave.

The counter trend is for states to pass measures that ban cities from passing paid sick leave laws and at least 12 states have passed these counter measures. State governments can “preempt” the area and ban local laws that mandate sick leave among other employment related issues including minimum wage in an effort to foster statewide uniformity, consistency and predictability in employer-employee relationships. Many believe that voters care more about minimum wage than paid sick leave but that President Obama’s mention of paid sick leave in his State of the Union address may have raised awareness.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 74% of full-time workers already get paid sick leave, but only 24% of part-time workers get this benefit. Smaller companies with 50 or fewer employees are less likely to offer paid sick leave because of the cost.

Leadership Begins with Identity: Jesus Led from Who He Was
(John 1:1, 14)

The best leadership simply expresses who we are. Jesus led from who He was: God incarnate, the perfect expression of the Father. As He pursued His divine mission, He influenced others. Similarly, as we pursue who God called us to be, our leadership will be most natural and effective.

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