I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from clients about California’s paid sick leave at the beginning of 2016. There has been a lot of confusion about accrual rates and tracking paid sick leave for employees, and if the employee’s paid sick leave accrual re-sets at the beginning of the calendar year. This week’s Friday’s Five is five reminders about California’s paid sick leave for 2016:
1. Employers must remember to keep the two different methods of providing paid sick leave (up-front grant vs. accrual) separate when analyzing their obligations under the law.
Many employers get confused because they examine the requirements of the law without understanding which requirements apply to the the up-front grant method or the accrual method. Employers must keep these two different methods distinct when analyzing their obligations under the law. For example, if employers provide the three days or 24 hours up-front to employees (i.e., the employees do not have to accrue the sick leave), then there is no need to set a cap on accrual. This is because the law states that employers using the up-front grant do not have to carry over any unused paid sick leave to the next year.
2. Employee’s accrual and usage is usually tracked based on the employee’s anniversary date.
Generally, the law requires that the employer must provide the employee with three days or 24 hours (whichever is greater) of paid sick leave from the employee’s hire date. Therefore, the calendar year usually does not apply when tracking and resetting the amount of paid sick leave employees are eligible to use.
3. Under the accrual method, employers have different options of how to set the accrual rate of paid sick leave.
The law originally required that employers provide employees with an accrual of one hour for every 30 hours worked and allow use of at least 24 hours or 3 days (whichever is greater) each year. The law was amended in October 2015 to allow employers to use an alternative accrual method as long as it is (1) on a regular basis, and (2) the employee has no less than 24 hours or three days paid sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment, or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.
4. At the time of hire, employers must provide notice to most employees about paid sick leave.
The DIR has generated a Notice to Employees that most California employers should be providing to their non-exempt employees. Among other things, the notice sets forth information about the employer’s paid sick leave policy.
5. Employers must review their record keeping and pay stub requirements.
The law requires that employers keep records about how much paid sick leave employees earned and used for three years. Employers are also required to provide employees with information about how much paid sick leave the employee has available to use on their pay stub or on another writing provided to the employee at the same time the employee is paid.