California Law Entitles Employees to Paid Sick Leave

A law in California, the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522), will mandate that employers provide paid sick leave to employees who have worked on or after January 1, 2015.

According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations:

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“An employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of employment, is entitled to paid sick leave. Employees, including part-time and temporary employees, will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.”

Or employers can provide three days of sick leave on July 1, 2015 and every year thereafter, thus eliminating the need for accruals. Either approach requires tracking time on the itemized wage statements (“pay stub”) or on a separate document provided with each paycheck.

Exceptions include employees covered by qualifying collective bargaining agreements, and In-Home Supportive Services providers. Certain employees of air carriers are not covered by this law.

An employer may limit the amount of paid sick leave an employee can use in one year to 24 hours or three days. Accrued paid sick leave may be carried over to the next year, but it may be capped at 48 hours or six days.

Employee Usage
  • An employee may use accrued paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.
  • An employee may request paid sick days in writing or verbally. An employee cannot be required to find a replacement as a condition for using paid sick days.
  • An employee can take paid leave for employee’s own or a family member for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventive care or for specified purposes for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Employer Compliance

There are several things employers must do to comply with the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522).

  • Display poster on paid sick leave (Spanish) (Vietnamese) where employees can read it easily.
  • Provide written notice to employees with sick leave rights (Spanish) (Vietnamese) at the time of hire.
  • Provide at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave for each eligible employee to use per year.
  • Allow eligible employees to use accrued paid sick leave upon reasonable request.
  • Show how many days of sick leave an employee has available. This must be on a pay stub or a document issued the same day as a paycheck.
  • Keep records showing how many hours have been earned and used for three years.

Retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests or uses paid sick days is prohibited. An employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates against the employee for exercising these rights or other rights protected under the Labor Code. Local offices are listed on the State of California Department of Industrial Relations website.

Required posters and notifications for employees must be completed and given to each employee no later than July 8, 2015. Learn more about the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522).


Author Nancy Brusegaard Johnson is Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Operations for the Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc (CAP). 


If you have questions about this article, please contact us. This information should not be considered legal advice applicable to a specific situation. Legal guidance for individual matters should be obtained from a retained attorney.