Better late than never! Yesterday afternoon, the California legislature passed amendments to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (“HWHFA”). The governor signed the amendments, and they are effective immediately.

As you are aware, the sick leave requirements of the HWHFA went into effect 2 weeks ago, on July 1, 2015. Employers must now provide paid sick leave benefits to all employees (with some limited exceptions).

This urgent legislation was passed to provide clarification on the sick leave requirements, and to address many of the concerns raised by employers throughout California.

Specifically, the amendments:

Clarify who is not a covered employee

  • Excludes those covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement meeting certain requirements; providers of in-home supportive services; flight deck or cabin crew members employed by an air carrier; certain public entity employees; and retired annuitants.

Clarify employee eligibility for sick leave benefits

  • Commencing July 1, 2015, an employee must work in California for the same employer for 30 or more days to be entitled to paid sick leave benefits.

Clarify the method for calculating benefits for exempt employees

  • Exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours per workweek, unless the employee’s normal workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case the employee shall accrue paid sick days based upon that normal workweek.

Provide alternate accrual methods other than 1 hour for every 30 hours worked

  • An employer may use a different accrual method provided that the accrual is on a regular basis, and an employee accrues at least 24 hours of sick leave or paid time off (“PTO”) by the 120th calendar day of employment.

Provide a “grandfather clause” for employers who already provided paid sick leave benefits prior to January 1, 2015

  • An employer is not required to provide additional sick days if the employer’s existing sick leave policy provides at least 1 day or 8 hours of accrued sick leave or PTO within 3 months of employment of each calendar year, or each 12-month period, and employees are eligible to earn at least 3 days or 24 hours of sick leave or PTO within 9 months of employment.

Provide alternatives for calculating the rate of pay for sick leave

  • Paid sick time for non-exempt employees may be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the paid sick time is utilized, regardless of any overtime hours worked.
  • Paid sick time for non-exempt employees may be calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime, by the total hours worked by the employee in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.
  • Paid sick time for exempt employees may be calculated in the same manner as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave time.

Clarify the requirement for reinstating sick leave benefits for a rehired employee

  • If an employee separates from an employer and is rehired within 1 year from the date of separation, previously accrued and unused paid sick days shall be reinstated, unless the employee was paid out for their accrued PTO at the time of separation.

Address unlimited sick leave policies

  • An employer who provides unlimited paid sick leave or PTO, may satisfy the requirement of providing written notice of the amount of leave available on each pay date by indicating “unlimited” on the notice or the employee’s itemized wage statement.

Clarify certain record keeping requirements

  • An employer is not obligated to inquire into or record the purposes for which an employee uses paid leave or PTO.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to make sure your sick leave policy complies with the new law. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like me to review your existing policy for compliance issues, or draft a new policy for your employees.