California's Paid Sick Leave: New 2024 Rules Enhance Worker Protections

California's Paid Sick Leave: New 2024 Rules Enhance Worker Protections

In a continuous effort to safeguard employee rights and well-being, California has taken a significant step in strengthening its paid sick leave provisions. Under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, most California employers were mandated to provide employees with three paid sick days or 24 hours annually. However, a recent legislative overhaul effective January 1, 2024, has amplified this benefit to five days or 40 hours, marking a crucial milestone in California's commitment to worker welfare.

Notable Adjustments

  • Increased Paid Sick Leave: Commencing January 1, 2024, employers governed by California's sick pay law must furnish employees with five paid sick days, equivalent to 40 hours per year.

  • Revamped Accrual Method: The alteration significantly impacts employers who rely on the accrual method. Previously, they could restrict paid sick leave accrual to six days or 48 hours. However, as of 2024, employees must have the liberty to accrue and roll over up to 10 days of paid sick leave, equating to 80 hours. Employers opting for the front-loading method are excused from the carryover requirement.

Compliance Alternatives

Employers have four avenues to meet these new prerequisites:

  1. Standard Accrual: Continue to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

  2. Modified Accrual: Allow employees to accumulate sick leave at a different rate, ensuring they reach a minimum of 24 hours or 3 days by their 120th day of employment and 40 hours or 5 days by the 200th day.

  3. Upfront Allocation: Provide an initial grant of 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave (whichever is greater) at the outset of employment and every 12 months thereafter.

  4. Front-Loading: Front-load 24 hours of paid leave by the 120th day of employment and guarantee that employees accrue a full 40 hours or 5 days (whichever is greater) by the 200th day of employment. This method enables employers to impose an extended waiting period for new hires.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Coverage

The new law tightens the exemption for employees under valid collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). Regardless of a CBA, certain provisions must be observed. These include allowing eligible employees to use paid sick leave for permissible reasons, removing the requirement for employees to find replacements before using paid sick days, and ensuring there is no retaliation.

Preemption of Local Ordinances

To avoid any confusion or contradictions, SB 616 clarifies that specific sections of the law take precedence over local ordinances. Employers must adhere to these state requirements, irrespective of any local regulations. These include reinstating accrued and unused paid sick leave for rehired employees within one year, providing written notice of available paid sick leave, defining methods for calculating the rate of pay for sick leave, establishing employee notice requirements when taking paid sick leave, and ensuring prompt payment for sick leave.

In Conclusion

California's extension of paid sick leave underscores its ongoing dedication to the protection and well-being of workers. Employers are advised to carefully examine these changes and bring their policies in line with the updated regulations to mitigate potential legal issues. As we approach January 1, 2024, California employers should diligently review their sick leave policies and make the necessary adaptations to comply with the revised requirements.

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