California Enacts Urgent Clarifications to California Paid Sick Leave Law
While employers throughout the state have struggled with the new requirements set out by the Paid Sick Leave Law that took effect July 1, 2015, new amendments to the law attempt to provide some clarification.
On July 13, 2015, Governor Brown signed into law AB 304, which is intended to amend the Paid Sick Leave Law in multiple aspects, including the permissible accrual methods an employer may use in calculating sick leave pay. The new amendments are effective immediately.
Important changes include:
- Requiring an employee to work for the "same employer" for more than 30 days within the previous 12 months in order to qualify for sick leave.
- Authorizing an employer to use a different accrual method than the "one hour for every 30 hours worked" requirement, so long as the accrual is on a regular basis so that an employee accrues no less than 24 hours of sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment, or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period. Alternatively, an employer may satisfy the accrual requirement by providing no 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.
- Permitting an employer to limit an employee's use of accrued paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period. Additionally, no carryover of unused sick leave is required if the full amount of leave is received at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period.
- Providing that an employer is not required to reinstate accrued paid time off to an employee rehired by the employer within one year of separation from employment where the employee was previously paid out unused paid time off at the time of termination, resignation, or separation.
- Allowing an employer who provides unlimited sick leave or unlimited paid time off to satisfy the notice requirement by indicating "unlimited" on the employee's itemized pay statement.
- Allowing employers in the broadcasting and motion picture industries to delay compliance with the notice requirement until January 21, 2016.
Dispensing with the 90-day look back method for calculating sick leave pay and permitting an employer to calculate pay for sick leave by the following methods:
- For nonexempt employees, 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 by dividing a nonexempt 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; and
- For exempt employees, in the same manner as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave time (i.e., vacation).
- Providing that an employer is not obligated to inquire into or record the purposes for which an employee uses paid sick leave or paid time off.
For the full regulations, please view the text of AB 304. Also note that the new regulations are broadly and vaguely worded in many respects and raise numerous questions of interpretation.