Sick of These Updates Yet? The Latest Sick Leave and Minimum Wage News (Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, OR)
Minneapolis is the first city in the Midwest to jump on the sick leave bandwagon. On May 27, the Minneapolis City Council passed a sick and safe time ordinance that requires employers of employees working in Minneapolis to provide sick leave to those employees. Beginning July 1, 2017, employers of 1-5 employees must provide unpaid sick leave, while employers of 6 or more employees must provide paid sick leave. The law specifies that all employees working for an employer (not just those working in Minneapolis) should be counted in determining employer size (although this provision seems to conflict with the how the law defines “employee”). However, only employees who perform work within the city for at least 80 hours a year for an employer are entitled to accrue sick leave.
Beginning on July 1, 2017 or upon commencement of employment, employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours (2 days) of sick leave each year. Employees may carryover all accrued, unused sick leave hours to the next year, but there is an 80 hour cap on the amount of sick leave an employee may have at one time. The law does not specify what happens if an employee hits that cap before accruing 48 hours of leave; ostensibly the employee would begin accruing again after using some of the accrued sick leave.
Employees can use sick leave for the usual sick and safe leave reasons; sick leave may be used in four hour increments. As with other sick leave laws, the law also specifies under what circumstances employers can require notice and documentation of sick leave use, and also specifies the recordkeeping requirements. The law requires employers to post a required notice (not yet published) and, if they have an employee handbook, to include in the handbook the notice of rights and remedies provided for under the law.
Importantly for employers with existing PTO policies, the City Council has recognized that many employers have existing PTO policies that do not require accrual and do not allow for carryover and has directed various city offices to analyze how such policies can be accounted for in the law by August 17, 2016.
The city will likely publish some guidance clarifying some of the ambiguities in the law sometime before next July. In the meantime, if you have employees in Minneapolis, get those employee handbooks and sick leave accrual and use tracking mechanisms ready!
Voters in San Francisco voted yesterday (June 7, 2016) to amend that city’s paid sick leave law, the oldest in the nation. The amendments, which go into effect on January 1, 2017, expand San Francisco’s paid sick leave law to parallel the broader provisions of California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act. Specifically, Proposition E amends San Francisco’s paid sick leave law as follows:
Provides that employees would begin to accrue paid sick leave on the first day of employment (rather than the 90th day of employment) but may not use sick leave until the 90th day of employment.
Provides that employees who leave their job and are rehired by the same employer within a year would have their unused sick leave reinstated.
Provides that employees can use paid sick leave for leave or other purposes when the employee is a victim or domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Provides that employees can use paid sick leave for purposes related to organ or bone marrow donation.
Broadens the definition of family member.
Provides that an employer may provide a lump sum of paid sick leave at the beginning of the year, which would be treated as an advance. An employee would not accrue paid sick leave until after the employee has worked the number of hours necessary to have accrued the upfront allocation amount.
Provides that employers who have to provide notice of available sick leave under California state law must also include on that notice the amount of paid sick leave available under San Francisco’s law.
Proposition E also grants the Board of Supervisors the power to amend the paid sick leave law to adopt provisions to parallel state or federal law in order to provide broader protections or coverage for employees (thus avoiding the need to put any such changes before voters again).
Also in yesterday’s elections in California, San Diego voters passed Proposition I, approving Ordinance O-20390, which provides for paid sick and safe leave and a minimum wage hike. Of note, the law is effective as soon as the election results are certified. The sick leave portion of the law was originally set to go into effect (and provides for sick leave to begin accruing) in 2015. However, interest groups forced the referendum. One would hope the city would provide employers with a grace period, but barring that employers should start tracking and allowing use of sick leave almost immediately.
Under the sick leave portion of the law, employees who perform at least two hours of work in San Diego in a year will be entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Unlike most other jurisdictions, there is no cap on accrual of paid sick leave, however employees are limited to using only 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Accrued, unused sick leave must carry over from year to year. Sick leave may be used in two hour increments. Unused sick leave does not have to be paid out upon termination of employment.
Also under this law, San Diego’s new minimum wage is $10.50, increasing to $11.50 per hour on January 1, 2017. Beginning in 2019, it will be tied to inflation. Given California’s recent minimum wage hike, the San Diego rate will match the state rate beginning in 2019.
Meanwhile, in Oregon, nine counties have sued the state over its sick leave law, which went into effect in January. Employers shouldn’t get excited, however—the counties are only challenging the legality of the law as it applies to them. Specifically, the counties claim that the sick leave law is an unfunded government mandate, and are asking the court for an interpretation of a 1996 amendment to the state’s constitution, which requires the legislature to pay local governments for costs of new state-mandated programs and provides that if funds are not provided, the local government does not have to comply with the program. While the lawsuit will not impact private employers, it is a good reminder for employers with employees working in Oregon to ensure that they are in compliance with Oregon’s sick leave law, which has a few unusual provisions, such as allowing the use of sick leave for bereavement purposes.
Finally, employers should ensure they are ready for the next round of minimum wage hikes, which go into effect July 1. You can find the current minimum wage rates in this chart, which is current as of May 26, 2016.