CHA News Article

California Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave Beginning July 1, 2015
Hospitals should evaluate their policies and systems to ensure compliance

Despite significant opposition from the employer community, the Governor signed AB 1522 (Chapter 317), which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work more than 30 days within the first year of their employment. The law provides for one hour of accrued paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrual is capped at 48 hours and an employer may limit annual usage to 24 hours. Since paid sick leave is not a vested benefit, it does not need to be paid out on termination of employment.

Employees may use paid sick leave not only for their own illness and medical appointments but also for children and parents (both broadly defined) as well as a spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings. Time off may also be taken by victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, for the purposes described in Labor Code 230(c) and 230.1(a).

The law has a carve-out for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. It also provides that an employer is not required to provide additional paid sick leave if the employer has a paid time off policy that satisfies the provisions of the paid sick leave law.

Employers must post a notice that will be developed by the labor commissioner, provide new hires with written notice of the law and include paid sick leave accrual on employee paystubs or in a separate written document provided to the employee each pay date.

The law raises several problematic issues for hospitals: 1) the mandate conflicts with many employment agreements whereby employees waive benefits in lieu of a higher hourly rate; 2) the rate at which paid sick leave will be provided is not entirely clear; and 3) the law prohibits an employer from denying an employee the right to use accrued sick days or retaliating against an employee from using paid sick leave. Thus, even hospitals that have a paid time off program may need to segregate these hours due to this limitation.

There are many other nuances to this new law. Hospitals should begin to evaluate their policies and systems to determine what steps must be taken to be in compliance on July 1, 2015.