California Governor Jerry Brown has until September 30th to sign or veto A.B. 1522, a recently passed bill that would require businesses employing at least one person in California to provide employees with paid sick leave and to comply with new recordkeeping and informational requirements. If signed by the governor, the bill will become effective on July 1, 2015.
Most employees would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
Employees may use accrued sick leave for the treatment of their own or a family member’s existing health conditions, as well as for preventive care. In addition, employees may use sick leave to recover from crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence. Employers must compensate time off at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Employers would have limited compliance flexibility and exemptions.
For example, employers may set minimum sick leave use increments, albeit not greater than two hours. Yearly use may be limited to 24 hours (or three days) total. Although unused leave will carry over to the following year, accrual may be capped at 48 hours (or 6 days) total. Employees are not entitled to receive pay for unused leave upon separation; but those who are re-hired within one year must have their previously accrued leave balances reinstated.
Employers whose paid leave policies already comply with the bill’s requirements do not need to provide additional sick leave. Similarly, employers need not give sick leave to certain employees, such as those who provide in-home supportive services or are unionized under collective bargaining agreements that meet enumerated requirements.
Employers would face new recordkeeping and informational requirements.
At the time of hiring, employees must receive notice about their right to accrue and use sick leave free from retaliation. Employees would again receive notice of their rights under the bill through posters that the Labor Commissioner will create to be conspicuously displayed at the workplace. In addition, employees must receive written notice of accrued sick leave amounts on either their itemized wage statements or on separate documents provided with their wages on payday.
Employers must keep records of hours worked, as well as of accrued and used sick leave, for at least three years.
Beware the bill’s sharp enforcement teeth.
Not only does the bill prohibit retaliation, but also imposes a rebuttable presumption against employers who take adverse action against employees within 30 days of their exercise of their right to take sick leave. The Labor Commissioner, tasked with enforcing the bill, may levy fines against employers who violate the bill. Both the Labor Commissioner and the Attorney General are also empowered to bring civil suits on behalf of aggrieved employees.