New Requirements in 2024 for California’s Paid Sick Leave Law
With 2024 quickly approaching, one of the many upcoming changes to California’s employment laws is an update to the Paid Sick Leave law (“PSL”) that was originally implemented in 2015 (Labor Code § 245 et seq.). Effective January 1, 2024, Senate Bill 616 (“SB 616”) expands the minimum accrual of paid sick leave employees are entitled to earn and accrue in a 12-month period under the PSL from 3 days/24 hours to 5 days/40 hours.
Increased Amount of Paid Sick Leave
In general, SB 616 will now require California employers to afford eligible employees the ability to earn and accrue up to the greater amount of 5 days or 40 hours of sick leave in each defined 12-month period under the PSL. This means that an employee who works 12-hour shifts is now entitled to use a minimum of 60 hours of accrued sick leave in the 12-month period. In contrast, an employee who works 6-hour shifts and takes 5 accrued sick leave days—totaling 30 hours—would still be entitled to use another 10 hours of accrued sick leave in the 12-month period. *These examples assume that the employee has either earned the accrued sick leave or been frontloaded the full amount of sick leave at the beginning of a 12-month period in accordance with the PSL.*
The effects of SB 616 are also dependent on the employer’s method of providing sick leave under the PSL:
The default minimum sick leave accrual method under the PSL is one hour of paid sick leave accrued per every 30 hours worked. This default accrual method remains unchanged by SB 616. However, because an employee will now be able to accrue up to 5 days or 40 hours in the applicable 12-month period, the total ongoing accrual cap of sick leave that an employer can implement before an employee is allowed to accrue more sick leave will also increase from the existing 6 days or 48 hours to 10 days or 80 hours.
The PSL also currently allows employers to use an alternative accrual schedule other than one based on hours worked (e.g., flat rate of sick leave accrued per pay period or month), but such an alternative accrual schedule must result in the employee accruing no less than 24 hours of PSL by the 120th calendar day of employment or in each calendar year. As a result of the increased minimum accrual cap, SB 616 now requires employees under such alternative accrual schedules to accrue no less than 40 hours of PSL by the 200th calendar day of employment or in each calendar year.
Keep in mind that some cities and counties in California have local paid sick leave ordinances that require employers to provide sick leave accruals in greater amounts than those required by the PSL.
The PSL also currently allows employers to use an alternative “frontload” method where an employee is provided the full amount of the greater of 3 days or 24 hours of sick leave at the beginning of each 12-month period, such as the commencement of their employment and subsequent anniversary dates. In order to comply with the new changes under SB 616, employers who are in the middle of an existing 12-month period on January 1, 2024 where 3 days/24 hours has already been frontloaded will have to implement one of the following two options:
- Maintain the existing 12-month period and frontload an additional 2 days or 16 hours on January 1, 2024; or
- “Reset” to a new 12-month period to begin on January 1, 2024 and frontload a new 5 days or 40 hours.
Other Changes to the PSL
SB 616 will also now exclude railroad carrier employers and their employees from the PSL.
While employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement with certain provisions are still exempt from the PSL, SB 616 extends certain PSL protections under Labor Code section 246.5 to such employees. This includes anti-retaliation protections, permitted uses of sick leave, and the prohibition against requiring an employee find a replacement worker as a condition of taking covered paid sick leave.
Because the PSL has a workplace posting requirement, employers must also now use the updated PSL poster recently issued by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”), which incorporates SB 616’s changes to the PSL. Additionally, the DLSE has also updated the individualized “Notice to Employee” form that is required to be provided to most private sector employees in accordance with Labor Code section 2810.5 to reflect the changes to PSL implemented by SB 616.
The DLSE also recently updated its FAQ’s on the PSL in light of the SB 616 changes.
While many employers provide paid sick leave in amounts greater than those required by the PSL, any employers who are only following the minimum requirements of the law will need to adjust their sick leave policies and practices in light of the changes implemented under SB 616 by the effective date of January 1, 2024.
Boutin Jones Inc.’s Employment Law Group attorneys are available to assist employers and business-entity agents, provide legal advice on the implications of this new update, and to answer any other questions you might have regarding the impact of SB 616 on California’s Paid Sick Leave laws.
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