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Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 adds Paid Sick Days

by on September 30, 2014

posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Law, Sick Leave,

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 creates a requirement for all employers to provide paid sick days for all employees.  After July 1, 2015 any employee who works in California for 30 or more days within one year accrues sick leave at a rate no less than one hour for each 30 hours worked and is entitled to use the accrued sick days starting with their 90th day of employment.  The accrual rate is equivalent to 8-2/3  days per year.  The use of paid sick days can be limited to 24 hours in any one year of employment.  This includes temporary workers and part-time employees that may not otherwise accrue leave or other benefits.

For purposes of the Act, employers includes public agencies.

The Leave Requirements:

1.  Employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for (all of the following) paid sick leave at the same accrual rate or better, binding arbitration for disputes over sick leave provisions, premium wage rates for all overtime worked, and regular hourly rate of pay at 130% of the State Minimum wage are not considered “Employees” under the Act.  One potential issue for public employers is that some do not have CBA’s with binding arbitration over sick leave policy disputes.

2.  Sick Days generally will carry over from year to year, however, an employer that credits an employee with at least 24 hours of sick leave at the start of each year is not required to have an accrual system or carry over leave.  In any case, no employer is obligated to allow accrual greater than a total of 48 hours.

3.  Sick Days are not a portable benefit – meaning they are not required to be paid out in cash to an employee upon separation from employment.  Accrued leave is reinstated if a separated employee resumes employment within one year.

4.  An employer can require a minimum use increment of a maximum of two hours, but not more. If a CBA provides for a greater minimum use than two hours, the Act may impact that provision of the Agreement.

5.  Employers must provide documentation of the accrued Sick Days to an employee on their itemized wage statement or on a separate written document on the employee’s pay date along with payment of wages.

6.  No additional paid leave is required so long as an employer already provides equivalent paid leave under an existing policy that can be used for the same purposes as Paid Sick Days under the Act.

How and When Paid Sick Days May be Used:

An employee is entitled to use this leave after 90 days of employment and as leave accrues thereafter.  To use Paid Sick Days, an employee must give reasonable advance notice if possible, or as soon as practicable, after the need for leave use arises; and make a written or oral request to use accrued leave.

Sick Days are available for diagnosis, care, or treatment of existing health conditions or for preventive care for the employee or for a member of the employee’s family (defined broadly in the Act.)  An employee who is the victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual assault may also use Paid Sick Leave.  No employee using Paid Sick Days is obligated to find a replacement worker to cover the time period of their absence, and may not be discriminated or retaliated against for their use of Paid Sick Leave.

Penalties for Violations:

Among other penalties for violations, the Labor Commissioner has the authority to order “any appropriate relief” including:

1. Reinstatement

2. Backpay

3.  Payment for missed sick leave, along with a mandatory administrative penalty equal to three times the dollar value of lost sick leave or $250.00 for each day, whichever is greater – up to a maximum of $4,000.00.

4.  If the harm to the employee is other than just a loss of pay for withheld sick days, a mandatory administrative penalty of $50.00 per day up to $4,000.00 that the violation occurred or continued is imposed.

5.  If a civil action is brought by the Labor Commissioner or Attorney General to collect legal and equitable relief, all of the above may be awarded as well as other injunctive relief and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

6. Interest.

All of the above remedies are cumulative, however employers may defend against penalties or liquidated damages that would be imposed under the Act, by showing that any violations occurred by way of isolated unintentional payroll errors or inadvertent mistakes regarding accrual or available sick leave.

Other Requirements Imposed on Employers:

As well as instituting a requirement for paid sick days, the Act also requires disclosure by an employer, at the time an employee is hired (or within seven days of any change) of information including:  Rates of Pay, including overtime rates; the regular payday; the name of the employer including any dba names; the address and telephone number of the employer, and of the employer’s worker compensation insurance carrier; and a notice of employee rights under the Act.

The Labor Commissioner form notifying employees of the above information, but not yet updated to include the Paid Sick Days rights notice may be obtained from: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/LC_2810.5_Notice.pdf

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tags: Accrual, Collective Bargaining Agreement, Employee Benefits, Healthy Families Act of 2014, Healthy Workplaces, Penalties, Sick Leave,

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