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Implement Paid Sick Leave

Understanding and implementing paid sick leave policies is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. At the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, our HR resources provide detailed insights into the requirements and best practices for paid sick leave. Explore our expert guidance to ensure your business complies with legal mandates while supporting employee well-being. Access comprehensive information to create effective sick leave policies that promote health, reduce absenteeism, and enhance overall workplace morale.

Please note: Lodi Chamber Business Tools HR Resources are provided by CalChamber's HR California and are intended for the use of Lodi District Chamber of Commerce members only.

How To: Implement Paid Sick Leave

California enacted the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 which mandates paid sick leave (PSL) for California employees. Mandatory PSL is required for nearly all California employees, with limited exceptions.

Note: Effective January 1, 2024, the law was expanded to increase the amount of PSL from three days to five and increase accrual and carryover amounts.

Follow Notice Requirements

Employers must be aware of several PSL notice requirements:

  • Post the required paid sick leave poster (Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act of 2014) in a place where employees can easily read it. It’s available on the Labor Commissioner’s website. In addition to posting notices in the workplace, employers may also send electronic versions of the notice to remote employees. California law specifies that the ability to send electronic notices doesn’t change the obligation to post the notice in the workplace. For an employee who works remotely full time, their remote location is their workplace, and they must post the notice there.
  • Show how many days of paid sick leave or paid time off each employee has available, either on a pay stub or in a separate written document issued the same day as the paycheck. If you have an unlimited paid sick leave or paid time off policy, simply write "unlimited" on the pay stub or other notice.
  • Provide nonexempt employees with the Wage and Employment Notice to Employees (Labor Code section 2810.5).

Decide How You Will Provide Sick Leave Benefits

Employers can choose between five different options to satisfy the PSL requirements.

There are four different accrual type options and one lump-sum approach.

  • Under the accrual methods, PSL carries over from year to year, but an employer may cap accrued and unused sick days at 80 hours or 10 days. You will need a policy to impose a cap and communicate that policy to employees.
  • Employers can avoid accrual and carryover of PSL by using the lump-sum approach. Each employee receives at least five days or 40 hours of paid sick leave, paid leave or paid time off at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year or 12-month period. Under the lump-sum approach, there is no accrual or carryover of unused sick time, but employees will get five new sick days/or 40 hours every 12 months.

You should also decide if you want to limit the amount of PSL an employee can use to five days per year. Regardless of how much sick leave an employee has accrued, an employer can limit the amount of sick leave an employee can take in one year to five days or 40 hours. You will need a policy to limit the amount of sick leave an employee can use in any one year.

Use the Paid Sick Leave Checklist (doc) to help you develop your practices. Contact your labor and employment counsel with any specific questions about how this law applies to your workforce.

Employee Requests Leave

You will need to follow the rules and allow employees to use PSL for all of the purposes and conditions specified under the PSL law. For example, an employee can use PSL to care for sick family members, including the employee's parent, parent-in-law, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or a “designated person.” Under the paid sick leave law, a “designated person” is any person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests paid sick leave, though an employer may limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period for purposes of paid sick leave.

Also, employees who are victims of crime or abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other crimes that cause physical injury or mental injury, can use PSL.

You must allow employees to use accrued PSL upon verbal or written request. The employee can decide how much accrued paid sick time they need to use. In general, you can require that employees give you “reasonable” advance notice of the need to take PSL if the reason for the leave is foreseeable. If not, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable.

Employees are not entitled to take accrued PSL until the 90th day of employment.

Keep Records

You will need to keep records for at least three years that document the number of:

  • Hours that the employee worked.
  • Paid sick days the employee accrued.
  • Paid sick days used by the employee.

An employer is not obligated to inquire into or record the purposes for which an employee uses paid time off.

Beware of Pitfalls

Some things you can’t do:

  • You can’t deny PSL to part-time or temporary employees.
  • You can’t require an employee using PSL to provide a doctor’s note, unless medical certification is required pursuant to another leave law. There is no PSL provision that allows an employer to require a doctor’s note. The law simply says that the employee must provide reasonable advance notification. According to the Labor Commissioner, denying leave because an employee failed to provide a doctor’s note or other details about the leave may lead to a claim against the employer for violation of PSL.
  • You can’t require employees to take time off in increments greater than two hours (e.g., don’t require an employee to take off a half-day for a brief morning appointment).
  • You can’t require employees to find a replacement worker for the time off.
  • You can’t ignore local ordinances because many localities have also enacted paid sick leave rules that exceed the benefits provided by the state law. You have to give employees the protections or rights that are the most generous to them.

Prohibit Discrimination and Retaliation

Keep in mind that employers can’t discriminate or retaliate against employees who exercise their rights to request and use PSL. Train managers and supervisors about the rights employees have to paid sick days and the prohibitions against denying the right to take the leave.

In some circumstances, an employee may request leave for family and medical reasons. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitle eligible employees to unpaid, job protected leave under defined circumstances. If you employ five or more employees, you are covered by CFRA. If you employ 50 or more employees, you are covered by FMLA.

The CFRA and the FMLA both provide a maximum of 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for an employee’s own serious health condition; caring for a family member with a serious health condition; bonding with a newborn, adopted or foster care child; and leave due to a qualifying exigency relating to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty status of an employee’s family member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The CFRA covers the following family members: spouses and domestic partners, children, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and “designated persons.” A “designated person” is an individual “related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” and whom the employee designates at the time the employee requests leave. Employers may limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period. The FMLA is not as expansive as CFRA, only providing leave to take care for a parent, spouse or child.

The FMLA also provides 26 weeks of leave for an employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin for a covered military servicemember who requires care.

The HR Resources Guide contains data from the Cal Chamber HR California website and other sources. It is intended for the private use of members of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce only, and is not to be duplicated without consent from Cal Chamber and the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce. All forms must be requested from the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, and will be provided upon confirmation of membership status.

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