Jan 10, 2024 General Employment Issues

2024 Changes to California Paid Sick Leave Rules

Employees in California are entitled to additional paid sick leave under a law effective January 1, 2024. The legislation affects most employers and employees in the state with a few exceptions. Notably, employers have several options regarding how they allow employees to accrue paid sick leave but employees may not fall below the minimum requirement for the year. 

Who Is Entitled to Paid Sick Leave?

The law applies to all employees in California who work at least 30 days for the same employer within a year, including part-time, per diem, in-home supportive services (IHSS) providers, and temporary employees, with some narrow exceptions. Among the exceptions are certain employees covered by collective bargaining agreements with specified provisions, railroad employees, retired annuitants working for governmental entities, and individuals employed by an air carrier as flight deck or cabin crew members who receive equivalent time off.

In addition, employees must be employed for 90 days before taking any sick leave. Employers can allow leave before 90 days but it is not required.

How Many Hours of Paid Sick Leave Must Employers Provide?

Employees are entitled to paid sick leave of at least 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave per year, whichever is greater. For example, an employee who works 10-hour days would receive 50 hours of paid sick leave. 

Employers must still comply with local laws that provide more generous paid sick leave than state law. 

How Is Paid Sick Leave Accrued?

Employers can choose to use an accrual policy where employees earn sick leave over time and it carries over each year. Employees must accrue at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. If more than 40 hours or 5 days are accrued under this policy, employers can cap accrued leave at the required amount in a given year. Employers can also limit unused accrued paid sick leave to 80 hours or 10 days per year, whichever is longer. 

Alternatively, employers can offer an upfront policy that provides employees with the full amount of sick leave for the year on the first day of the year. For administrative ease, frontloading paid sick leave may be the best way to make sure that an employer complies with the law. There is an exception for new hires who can be limited to 3 days or 24 hours of paid sick leave provided by the 120th calendar day of employment and 5 days or 40 hours provided by the 200th calendar day of employment. 

Importantly, employers can decide how they want to measure a year (fiscal, calendar, anniversary of employment, etc.). If the year starts on a date other than January 1st, employers must ensure that they make the appropriate adjustments to an employee’s paid sick leave in 2024 to achieve the minimum requirements of the new law. That may mean providing additional leave between January 1st and the date the employee’s year starts.

Can Employers Offer a Different Paid Sick Leave Policy?

Some previous paid sick leave policies may be grandfathered in if they (1) existed prior to January 1, 2015; (2) provide no less than one day or 8 hours of accrued paid sick leave or paid time off within three months of employment per year, and (3) provide that the employee is eligible to earn at least five days or 40 hours of paid sick leave or paid time off within 6 months of employment. 

What Steps Should Employers Take Starting January 1, 2024?

As discussed above, employers must calculate what employees are entitled to and ensure that they make the necessary adjustments to their policies and procedures, payroll systems, and anything else needed to comply with the law. 

Employers must also display a poster with the new paid sick leave rules in the workplace and provide employees with a Notice to Employees explaining the rules. Employee handbooks should also be updated.

Please feel free to reach out to any of our attorneys if you have any questions or would like our assistance in complying with California’s new paid sick leave law.

NOTICE: Material provided on this website has been prepared by Kauff McGuire & Margolis LLP solely for general informational purposes, and it is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice. Material provided on the website is not privileged and does not create an attorney-client relationship with the Firm or any of its lawyers.