If they have not already done so, employers need to start planning and putting a plan into action in order to ensure full compliance by the July 1, 2015 compliance deadline set by California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act. As I’ve set forth before, many deadlines for the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act have already passed, and the primary compliance deadline of July 1 is looming. Here are some considerations employers should begin resolving right now in order to ensure compliance by July 1.
1. Begin a dialogue with payroll company
Make a determination if your payroll company, or possibly some other vendor, will track the necessary accrual of paid sick time and the other data points needed to comply with the law. Some payroll companies are charging to add this component to the payroll process. Do not assume that the solution your payroll company is offering complies with the law, and employers need to manage this process very closely to ensure compliance. Also, the law requires that the employer set out the amount of paid sick leave available on the employee’s pay date with the employee’s payment of wages. This notice can be made on the employee’s pay stub or some other writing at the time the employee is paid, and a sample from the company’s payroll processing company should be reviewed prior to July 1, 2015 to ensure it meets the legal requirements.
2. Begin a dialogue with temporary staffing agents
If your company uses any outside staffing firms, there needs to be a discussion about compliance with the paid sick leave requirements. It should be carefully spelled out in the contract with the staffing firm about who will be tracking the paid sick leave for the employees and meeting the other requirements of the law. If the staffing firm is handling this issue, there should be an indemnity clause protecting the client as there could be joint employer liability for missteps in complying with the act.
3. Decide what data needs to be tracked and who will track it
There are surprisingly many dates and data points that need to be tracked under the new law. For example, employees are not eligible to use any accrued sick leave until their 90th day of employment. Therefore, employers will need to be able to track this deadline in order to ensure the employee qualifies for paid sick leave before receiving pay for the time off. In addition, employers may cap employee’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or 3 days “in each year of employment.” However, this “use cap” will need to be tracked according to each employee’s anniversary date with the company. Employers may have multiple vendors who have access to the data necessary to track and calculate the eligibility of employees to use paid sick leave, and there needs to be one point of contact designated to ensure the information necessary is being tracked.
4. Provide notice to employees
Employers need to provide non-exempt employees already employed as of January 1, 2015, information about the paid sick leave law and the employer’s policy as soon as possible. While the notice to employee published by the Labor Commissioner is only required for non-exempt employees, employers should consider communicating its paid sick leave policy and any revised policies to comply with the law (see below) to all employees given that the paid sick leave law covers all employees, exempt and non-exempt.
5. Review and decide if your other policies need to be revised to comply with the law.
Employers need to review other policies such as vacation, sick leave, kin care leave, and attendance policies to ensure they comply with the requirements of the new sick leave law. For example, the act presumes that an employer retaliated against an employee “if an employer denies an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharges, threatens to discharge, demotes, suspends, or in any manner discriminates against an employee” within 30 days of the employee taking leave or opposing an employment practice prohibited by the law. With this strong presumption build into the law, employers need to review their attendance policies to ensure that the employees will not be adversely affected if they do take paid time off covered by the act.