SB 616: Amended Sick Time Requirements

California has amended the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (the “Act”) (Labor Code sections 245.5 through 246.5) to require employers to provide additional paid sick time to employees working in California for at least 30 days in a calendar year. Under Senate Bill (S.B.) 616, beginning January 2024, all California employers, including public agencies, are required to provide employees at least 5 days, or 40 hours, of paid sick time a year, as opposed to the previous requirement of at least three days, or 24 hours, of paid sick time. 

New Accrual Provisions
An employee must accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. As with the previous law, employers may elect to use a different accrual method, but the alternative accrual method must allow employees to accrue on a regular basis: 1) no fewer than 24 hours of paid sick time by the 120th calendar day of employment; and 2) and no fewer than 40 hours of paid sick time by the 200th calendar day of employment. Alternatively, the employer can credit employees with 5 days, or 40 hours, of paid sick time at the beginning of each year of employment, or calendar year, or 12-month period. 

As with the prior law, a newly-hired employee is not entitled to use accrued paid sick time until the employee’s 90th day of employment.

Under the amended law, employers can cap an employee’s accrual of paid sick time at 80 hours or 10 days. (Under existing law, the cap was 48 hours or 6 days.)

Carry-Over Provisions
Unless the employer automatically credits its employees with the full 5 days, or 40 hours, of paid sick time up-front each year, an employer must allow employees to carry over their accrued, unused sick time for use in the following year. However, employers may limit employees to use no more than 40 hours, or 5 days, of paid sick time per year of employment, calendar year, or other 12-month period. 

Clarification of Labor Agreement Exemption
The law continues to provide an exemption for employees who are covered by a collectively bargained labor agreement that provides: (a) paid sick time; (b) binding arbitration of a dispute concerning the sick time provision; (c) premium rates for overtime work; and (d) a regular hourly rate of pay that is at least 30% more than the State minimum wage rate (meaning $20.80 in 2024). The amended law clarifies that this exemption does not excuse the employer from the following requirements: (1) the employee must be able to use the paid sick time for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventative health condition for, an employee and an employee’s family member; (2) an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking must be able to use the paid time consistent with Labor Code sections 230 and 230.1 to obtain or attempt to obtain relief to ensure the health, safety or welfare of the employee or their child, to seek medical and/or mental health services, to participate in safety planning, and/or to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter program, rape crisis center, or other organization; (3) the employer cannot require an employee, as a condition of using a paid sick day, to find a replacement worker to cover the employee’s absence; and (4) the employer cannot deny an employee the right to use accrued sick time, and cannot discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick time, attempting to exercise the right to use the accrued paid sick time, filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner or alleging a violation of the Act, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of the Act, or opposing any policy, practice, or act that is prohibited by the Act.

Employers should review and update their paid sick time policies to make sure they comply with the amended law. As always, Aleshire & Wynder is available to assist in developing best practices and answer any questions you may have regarding compliance with S.B. 616.


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