Under California’s paid sick and safe leave law, all employees in California are eligible to accrue and use up to 40 hours or 5 days (whichever is greater) of paid leave each calendar year (or other 12-month period).
- Accrue paid sick time for employees at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, or
- Grant up front 40 hours or 5 days (whichever is greater) of paid sick and safe leave at the beginning of each 12-month period.
There are other requirements under the law, which you can read more on here about the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014. Some of these requirements are also detailed further below.
Also note, as seen further below, that there are many local sick leave laws in California as well.
All temporary, part-time, and full-time employees who work in California for the same employer for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment are entitled to paid sick and safe leave.
Employees may use accrued paid sick time for any of the following reasons: the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, the employee or the employee’s family member. “Family member” for purposes of a paid sick leave policy includes a spouse, registered domestic partner, child (regardless of the child’s age), parent (including a stepparent or parent-in-law), grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. Paid sick and safe leave may also be used by an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to seek aid or medical attention, obtain services or counseling, or participate in safety planning.
Setting up a compliant policy
Employers are required to set up a policy that meets the minimum California requirements and any local applicable paid sick leave ordinances and document the policy in a written form. California’s paid sick leave law outlines the different methods for accruing and paying sick leave time that will satisfy the state law’s requirements, which you can read more about here.
Setting up a “front-load” policy may be the most administratively simple approach. In a “front-load” approach, you grant the minimum upfront amount required by the corresponding jurisdiction. You can set up a policy in Justworks by following the instructions here.
If your policy is based on an accrual method, employers must permit accrued paid sick leave to carry over to the following year of employment, however, it may be capped at 48 hours per year.
Employers also need to display a poster with this text for all their employees in California. Justworks will redesign this poster and add it to the Document Center for all California-based employees.
If your office is based in California, we also highly encourage you to print out one of the posters above and hang it in your office.
Under California’s paid sick leave law, employers are required to include certain information about their paid sick leave policy in a wage theft notice that is distributed to each of their non-exempt employees working in California. We’ve included a copy of the “California Wage Notice” template in your Justworks Document Center (under HR > Documents > Compliance documents).
You’ll need to:
- Fill out the “Employee,” “Employer,” “Wage Information,” and “Paid Sick Leave” sections of the notice for each of your employees based in California;
- Input your company’s workers’ comp policy number (which is listed on the workers’ comp certificate of insurance (COI) in your company’s Document Center; if you don’t see the COI in your company’s Document Center, please contact Justworks’ Support); and
- Upload a copy of the completed notice to each employee’s Document Center
- Notify the employee that this has been added to their Document Center and is ready for their review or utilize Justworks' E-Signature feature
Information on Paystub
Employers must show, on an employee’s paystub or a document issued the same day as their paycheck, how many days of sick leave the employee has available. Employers also must keep records showing how many hours employees have earned and used for three years. This information may be stored on documents available to employees electronically.
If you set up a paid sick leave policy with Justworks, we will automatically add this information to employee paystubs.
Limitations on Paid Sick Leave
Employees begin accruing paid sick time on their first day of work, but employers can limit their ability to take their paid sick leave until the employee has been employed for 90 days.
An employer is not required to pay out accrued, unused paid sick time when an employee separates from employment with the employer. However, if you are providing paid sick time through your general PTO policy, you will need to pay out all of an employee’s accrued, unused PTO upon separation from employment.
Keep in mind that if a separated employee is rehired within a year of separation, employers must reinstate their prior unused paid sick leave.
Local Paid Sick and Safe Leave
Many cities and counties in California have separate paid sick and safe leave regulations and ordinances. Jurisdictions with paid sick leave ordinances are listed below, and that list continues to grow. Some of these local ordinances offer more generous sick leave entitlements than the state requirements.
If more than one paid sick leave law applies, you must comply with the provisions of each law that most benefit the employee. Your paid sick leave policy and practices should be reviewed periodically by your legal counsel for the states and localities in which your employees are working to ensure compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, and to ensure that your policy and practices are appropriate to your particular situation.
- Berkeley Sick Leave*
- Emeryville Sick Leave*
- Los Angeles Sick Leave*
- Oakland Sick Leave*
- San Diego Sick Leave*
- San Francisco Sick Leave*
- Santa Monica Sick Leave*
- West Hollywood Paid Sick, Vacation, or Personal Necessity Leave*
COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
As of December 31, 2022, the statewide law COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) has expired and followed by similar leave ordinances in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Francisco that expired in February 2023; Oakland ended June 18, 2023.
California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR): Paid Sick Leave in California
California DIR: California Paid Sick Leave: Frequently Asked Questions
Mineral: California Sick Leave*
*Be sure you’re logged into your Justworks account with administrative permissions to access Mineral.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.