Under California’s paid sick and safe leave law, all employees in California are eligible to accrue and use up to 24 hours or 3 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 24 hours or 3 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. Some of these requirements are also detailed further below.
Many cities and counties in California have separate paid sick and safe leave regulations and ordinances. Jurisdictions with paid sick leave ordinances include San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, and Santa Monica, and that list keeps growing.
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.
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 directions here.
Employers also need to display a poster with this text for all their employees in California. Justworks will redesign this poster and add 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 notice that is distributed to each of their non-exempt employees working in California. We’ve included a copy of the required notice in your Document Center.
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.
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.
COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
Under the revived California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL), all employers in California with 26 or more employees must provide up to a total of 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid leave to eligible employees with a qualifying reason. The paid leave entitlement is retroactive from January 1, 2022 and will remain in effect through December 31, 2022. Previous iterations of California SPSL were available in 2020 and 2021.
Employees who work a full-time schedule are entitled to 80 hours of SPSL. The entitlement for employees who work a part-time schedule with variable hours may be determined by two calculation methods found here.
Employees may use up to 40 hours of SPSL if the employee is unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:
- The covered employee is subject to quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace, has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The covered employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation period or has been advised by a healthcare provided to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
- The covered employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms.
- Paid sick leave for vaccine-related reasons may be limited to up to 3 days or 24 hours of paid leave per vaccination unless the employee provides verification from a healthcare provider that more time is necessary.
Employees may use up to an additional 40 hours of SPSL if the employee is unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:
- The second category of paid leave can only be used to recover from a positive case of COVID-19 or to care for a family member who tests positive. Under this category, employers are allowed to require workers to submit proof of their own positive COVID-19 test or one from the family member in order to qualify. The employer also may require the employee to be tested again 5 days after the original test. The employer must cover the cost of such a test.
Employees must be paid their regular rate of pay, subject to a cap of $511 per day of SPSL.
Employers must provide a notice of this new law to employees and provide a written notice of available leave on the itemized wage statement. For Justworks customers, employee pay statements will reflect both the available balance and the amount used that pay period for any sick leave policy to which an employee is assigned.
Note: Some cities and counties in California have separate COVID-19 paid sick leave regulations and ordinances. If more than one paid sick leave law applies, you must comply with the provisions of each law that most benefit the employee.
Employers should consider how this new sick leave will affect their existing sick leave and PTO policies. This obligation to provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is in addition to regular paid sick leave. California employers may want to create a separate, temporary COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave 2022 policy to track this new leave benefit, with an expiration date matching the sunset date of September 30, 2022.
CA Department of Industrial relations (DIR): COVID-19 Guidance and Resources
CA DIR: 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave FAQs
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.