Governor Brown signs “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014”

By lfsuser on October 17, 2014

On September 10, 2014, Governor Brown signed AB 1522, “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” into law requiring California employers to provide sick leave benefits to their employees. The new law contains some detailed requirements which are highlighted below.

Accrual of Paid Sick Leave

Under the new law, exempt and non-exempt employees who work 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of their employment are entitled to accrue paid sick days at a rate of “no less than one (1) hour for every 30 hours worked. “ This equates to approximately 5.3 hours per month for employees who work 40 hours per week. Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per week for accrual purposes, except employees who normally work fewer than 40 hours will accrue based on their actual scheduled workweek. Put into perspective, a full-time employee who works 40 hours per week would be entitled to up to 8.6 days of paid sick time off per year.

Using Paid Sick Leave

Employees can begin to use paid sick leave as of the 90th day of employment. Employees must provide “reasonable” advance notice if the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable. If it is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice of the need for leave as soon as practicable. Employers have discretion to lend employees paid sick days before they have accrued. Employees may use paid sick time for themselves or a family member for preventative care or treatment of an existing condition.

Rate of Pay and Payment of Paid Sick Leave

Rate of pay for sick leave is the employee’s regular hourly wage (inclusive of commission or piece rate pay). Employers will have to pay out sick leave benefit payments to employees no later than the payday for the next payroll period after the sick leave was taken. Employers will be required to provide written notice, such as an itemized wage statement or separate written document, that shows designated pay dates that set forth the amount of paid sick leave benefits available to the employee.

Notice and Posting

Employers will be required to display in a conspicuous place a poster prepared by the Labor Commissioner notifying employees of these paid sick leave rights. Employers who willfully violate the posting requirements will be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100 per offense.

Employer Imposed Limitations

An employer may limit the employee’s accrual and use of paid sick leave. An employer can choose to limit the annual amount of accrued paid sick leave to 48 hours or six (6) days per year. An employer can also limit the employee’s annual use of paid sick leave benefits to 24 hours or three (3) days a year. Employers may set a reasonable minimum increment of time, not to exceed two hours, for the use of paid sick leave.

Employers Already Offering Paid Sick Leave

New Labor Code Section 246(e) provides that if an employer already has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy, the employer is exempted from providing additional paid sick days if:

(a) it has a paid leave policy or paid time off policy,

(b) the employer makes available an amount of leave that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as specified in this new law, and

(c) the employer’s policy does either of the following:

(1) it satisfies the accrual, carry over and use requirements of this new law; or

(2) it provides at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave, or equivalent paid leave or paid time off, for employee use for each year of employment or calendar year or 12-month basis.

This exemption only applies to the provision of additional time off, but does not exempt employers from other aspects of this new law (i.e., notices, posters, record-keeping, etc.).

Employees Exempted

The new law does not apply to the following employees:

  • employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that expressly provide for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of employees, as well as for paid sick days (with final and binding arbitration for any disputes regarding paid sick days), premium wage rates for all overtime, and a regular hourly rate of not less than 30% more than the state minimum wage;
  • construction industry employees covered by a CBA with these provisions are not covered by this bill if the CBA was entered into before Jan. 1, 2015, or if the CBA expressly waives the requirements of this new law in clear and unambiguous term;
  • providers of in-home support services under specified sections of the California Welfare and Institutions Code; and
  • an individual employed by an air carrier as a flight deck or cabin crew member subject to Title II of the federal Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. 181 et seq.), if they receive compensated time-off at least equal to the paid sick leave under AB 1522.

Enforcement

The Labor Commissioner will enforce the new law, including the investigation, mitigation, and relief of violations of its requirements. In addition, the Labor Commissioner will be authorized to impose administrative fines for violations and would authorize the commissioner or the Attorney General to recover specified civil penalties against an offender who violated these provisions on behalf of the aggrieved, as well as attorney’s fees, costs, and interest.

The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. California employers must review and may find it necessary to revise sick leave or paid time off policies to comply with the new law and avoid any potential violations.

To read the full text of AB 1522 “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” click here.

This document is intended to provide you with general information about legal developments. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have questions about the contents of this alert, please contact Gemma Mondala at 415-697-2000 or at gmondala@aghwlaw.com. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.