Paid sick-leave laws change in favor of California workers

A new California law give more workers access to paid sick-time.

It is estimated that 40 percent of employees in California do not receive paid sick leave. As of July 1, however, many of these individuals will be eligible under the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014.

With this law, employees, including part-time and temporary workers, will receive at least one hour of paid sick-leave for every 30 hours worked. It applies to any employee who works for a company at least 30 days within a calendar year, with accrual beginning July 1, 2015 or the first day of employment, whichever is later.

California joins Connecticut and Massachusetts as the only states so far to pass laws that mandate paid sick leave. More than 18 cities nationwide have similar laws as well.

Exceptions to the law

Not all types of employees, however, are covered by this new legislation. Exemptions include:

  • Employees covered by union contracts/collective bargaining agreements
  • Freelancers or independent contractors (but temporary employees from staffing agencies are covered)
  • In-Home Supportive Services employees
  • Airline flight deck or cabin crew employees with equivalent benefits
  • Certain public-sector employees who receive a government pension and return to part-time work

The fine print

On the 90th day of employment, an employee is eligible to use his or her accrued, paid sick-time. He or she may request this time of verbally or in writing, and is not required to find a replacement to work for him or her on those days. Sick-time is paid at an employee's regular hourly rate.

Paid leave can be used for an employee's own illness; diagnosis, care or treatment for an existing health condition; preventative care for specific purposes. For a full time worker, accrued time can work out to more than eight days per calendar year. However, an employee has the discretion to limit sick-time to 24 hours, or three days, per year.

Rights to sick-leave are protected by law

As with any employee right, workers are protected under the Labor Code against retaliation or discrimination based upon use of sick leave. If an employee feels their rights have been violated, he or she may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against his or her employer.

If you feel that your employment rights have been violated related to the new sick leave law, or for any other reason, you have the right to fight back. An experienced employment attorney can provide you with the strong legal representation you need.