Paid Sick Leave The “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” gives workers who labor 30 days or more per year three days of sick leave. Though worker accrue no less than one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, their employers can cap sick leave at three days—a total of 24 hours—per year. A worker’s accrued sick days can carry over from one year to the next, but employers can still limit the worker’s paid sick days each year to three.
Unlike Connecticut’s law, which applies only to businesses with at least 50 employees, California’s new law covers businesses of every size, though not home health care workers. Sick days are “use it or lose it,” so employees might have an incentive to call in sick to get three paid days off each year. The law does not take effect until July 1, which gives HR professionals time to review its provisions and make sure their record-keeping complies with the law’s requirements.
The new law puts employers on notice that if they fire or demote a worker within 30 days of him or her taking a sick day, there’s a rebuttable presumption that it was an act of retaliation, which opens the door to possible litigation for wrongful termination. “For HR people, it’s extremely important that they be careful about the timing of how people are disciplined, “If you want to take adverse employment action against someone because they’re a lousy worker, as a practical matter, it’s dangerous to do that within 30 days of them having used their sick leave” Employers bear the burden of proving that dismissing or disciplining a worker who had called in sick was not an act of retaliation for taking a sick day. Should an employee be fired or disciplined more than 30 days after taking a sick day, the employer could still be accused of retaliating, but there’s no longer an assumed presumption that that was the case. Before this measure was approved, efforts to pass a paid-sick-leave law had stalled in the legislature several times since 2008. Lowering the proposed number of paid sick days per year played a critical role in securing the governor’s signature on the bill.
Don’t be surprised if other states follow California’s lead in mandating paid sick days. Businesses with multistate operations may opt to harmonize their sick-leave policies with California’s to make company policies consistent nationwide. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, “but what happens in California does not stay in California.” New Jersey and New York often look to the Golden State for guidance on employment laws and enact similar provisions a few years down the line. “California is going to continue to lead the nation on significant employment matters,”