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Amendments to California's Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act

On July 13, 2015, Governor Brown signed AB 304 passed by the California legislature, which amended The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (commonly referred to as California’s paid sick leave law). The California Department of Industrial Relations has posted on its website that it is reviewing the changes and will post an update soon.  The amendments take immediate effect, and include the following changes (among others):

  • Eligibility: An employee must work in California for the same employer for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment in order to be entitled to paid sick days under the Act.
  • Alternate Accrual Methods Permitted: An employer may use a different accrual method, other than providing one hour per every 30 hours worked, provided that the accrual is on a regular basis so that an employee has no less than 24 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.  An employer may satisfy the accrual requirements of the Act by providing not less than 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave that is available to the employee to use by the completion of his or her 120th calendar day of employment.  Note: This alternate accrual method does not appear to relieve an employer of the obligation to carry over unused accrued paid sick leave.
  • When No Accrual or Carryover is Required:  No accrual or carry over is required if the full amount of leave is received at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period. The term “full amount of leave” means three days or 24 hours.
  • No Additional Sick Days are Required to be Provided Under the Act Depending on the Terms of the Employer’s Prior Policy:  The law still states that an employer is  not required to provide additional paid sick days if the employer has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy that satisfies the accrual, carry over and use requirements of the Act, regardless of when the policy was implemented or modified. In addition, under the new amendments, if an employer provided paid sick leave or paid time off to a class of employees before January 1, 2015, pursuant to a sick leave policy or paid time off policy that used an accrual method different than providing one hour per 30 hours worked, the employer doesn’t have to provide additional sick days under the Act, if the policy provides for accrual on a regular basis as follows: any employee (including one hired after January 1, 2015) has no less than one day or eight hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off within three months of employment of each calendar year, or each 12-month period, and the employee is eligible to earn at least three days or 24 hours of sick leave or paid time off within nine months of employment. If an employer modifies the accrual method used in the policy it had in place prior to January 1, 2015, the employer must comply with any accrual method set forth in the Act or provide the full amount of leave at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period. Of course, the paid leave provided under the employer’s policy must be available for the same purposes and under the same conditions as paid sick leave under the Act.
  • Unlimited Time Off: If an employer provides unlimited paid sick leave or unlimited paid time off to an employee, the employer may satisfy the wage statement reporting requirements under the Act by indicating on the employee’s paystub (or other wage notice) that the amount of paid sick leave available is “unlimited.”
  • Calculation of Paid Sick Leave: For nonexempt employees, employers may use either of the following methods: (1) calculate paid sick leave in the same manner as the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses paid sick time, whether or not the employee actually works overtime in that workweek, or (2) calculate paid sick leave 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.  Paid sick leave for exempt employees must be calculated in the same manner as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave time.
  • Reinstatement: An employer is not required to reinstate accrued paid time off to a re-hired employee that was paid out at the time of termination, resignation, or separation of employment.

For the full text of the current law, please click here.

Please note that this summary is not intended to constitute legal advice. 

If you have questions regarding compliance with the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.

Legal Disclaimer

Legal Disclaimer and Notice:
These updates have been prepared by Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Information on this website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.