California is now the second state in the nation to implement paid sick-leave state wide (Connecticut is the other). Thankfully for employers, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (“HWHF”) will not take effect until July 1, 2015, giving employers some time to plan ahead.

The HWHF is very broad in scope. It covers all employers regardless of size, with limited exceptions for union employees, construction employees, and providers of in-home support services. There is no small employer exception.

The union exception is limited to employees covered by collective bargaining agreements that expressly provide for: (1) wages, hours of work, and working conditions of employees; (2) paid sick days (with final and binding arbitration for disputes arising from sick days); (3) pay premium wages for all overtime hours worked; and (4) a regular hourly rate of not less than 30% more than the state minimum wage.

Like the San Francisco sick leave ordinance, the HWHF requires employers to accrue sick pay at a rate of “not less than one hour per every 30 hours worked.” The accrual begins on either the first day of work, or as of July 1, 2015 when the law becomes effective, whichever is later. For a full-time employee working 2080 hours per year (or a salaried employee), that would be 69.33 hours (8.66 days) per year.

Employees will be able to use that accrued sick time after 90 days of employment. Accrued sick leave can be limited to six days (48 hours) total, and an employer can limit carryover to three sick days (24 hours) each year.

Sick days can be used for the employee or a family member (defined as parent, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling). Time off can be used for illness or preventative care.

Employers with paid sick leave or paid time off policies do not need to change anything if their current policy:

  • Makes available an amount of leave that may be used for the same purposes as the new law (i.e. sick/family sick); and
  • Satisfies the accrual, carry over, and use requirements of HWHF; or
  • Provides for no less than 24 hours (3 days) of paid sick leave, or equivalent paid leave or paid time off per year.

There will be more to come on HWHF. I have a feeling the devil will be in the details. Get out your aspirin!