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Changes to California Paid Sick Leave Requirements on July 13, 2015

The new Paid Sick Leave law that went into effect in California on July 1, 2015 was already amended less than two weeks after it took effect on July 1, 2105. This means that employers may have to revisit, and most likely update their paid leave policies and Employee Handbooks.

An employer must individually notify all employees hired prior to January 1, 2015 of changes to terms and conditions of employment that relate to paid sick leave within 7 days of the actual change. Information concerning any new or previously existing paid sick leave program that includes information required to be given to each employee by Labor Code section 2810.5(a), must be provided to all employees. A revised DLSE notice form may be used for providing individual notice to these existing employees unless the employer chooses an authorized alternative method.

Some of the new changes include:

  1. Different methods of accrual other than the one hour per 30 hours worked;

  2. Records documenting the hours worked, and paid sick days accrued and used by an employee, must be kept for at least three years according to the bill as passed;

  3. The bill would permit an employer who provides unlimited sick leave to its employees to satisfy notice requirement by indicating “Unlimited” on the employee’s itemized wage statement;

  4. Employers are, per the original bill, required to provide written notice of the amount of paid sick leave or PTO available to the employee each pay day, which can be satisfied by including accrued hours on itemized wage statements. The amendment now requires employers to provide written notice of the amount of Paid Sick Leave or Time Off in lieu of sick leave on the employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing with each paycheck. Employers do not have to show time used. If unlimited paid sick leave is provided, then the pay stub may indicate “Unlimited”;

  5. Under the original bill, employers were required to reinstate sick leave for immediate use to employees who are rehired within one year. However, under the new amendment, employers are not required to reinstate accrued Paid Sick Leave to an employee rehired within one year of separation from employment if they were paid out at the time of termination, resignation or separation;

  6. Rate calculations for exempt and non-exempt employees are treated differently; and

  7. Employers must not inquire into or record the purpose for which the sick leave is going to be used.

Since employers are not required to provide more than 24 hours of Paid Sick Leave, employers can benefit from having a paid time off policy that caps paid time off, while satisfying the law’s requirements.

The Department of Industrial Relations has published an updated Q&A that discusses the changes to the law.

New Posting Requirements

First, beginning January 1, 2015, employers are required to post in a conspicuous place at the workplace, a poster containing the following information: (1) that an employee is entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick days; (2) the amount of sick days provided for and the terms of use of paid sick days; (3) that retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests paid sick days or uses paid sick days or both is prohibited; and (4) that an employee has the right under this law to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates against an employee.  The new law required the Labor Commissioner to develop such a poster, and it is now available on the Labor Commissioner’s website.

Second, after January 1, 2015, employers are required to provide most employees with an individualized Notice to Employee (required under Labor Code section 2810.5) that includes paid sick leave information.  A revised Notice to Employee form (available to employers for download at DLSE’s website) must be used for employees hired after January 1, 2015, and is optional for use prior to the January 1, 2015 effective date.  Use of the revised form prior to January 1, 2015, will be deemed compliant with the new requirement as of January 1, 2015; otherwise, for employees hired prior to January 1, 2015, the employer is required to provide a revised Notice to Employee or otherwise inform each employee of the information regarding paid sick leave within 7 days of the change, using any of the alternative methods specified in Labor Code section 2810.5(b).

To ensure that your business remains compliant with this new law, consult a licensed California employment attorney.

Employee Handbooks should be updated at least annually in order to keep up with the changes in California employment law.

To schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s employment attorneys, call (949) 798-6298, or fill out a Contact Request Form. The Grady Firm attorneys can update your business’ company policies/Employee Handbook, create new policies, prepare employment forms, and explain the detailed nuances of the new law.


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