Legal Alert: Important Updates to California Paid Sick Leave Laws

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed SB 616, introducing updates to California Paid Sick Leave laws that go into effect on January 1, 2024. This alert summarizes the key modifications in SB 616 you should be aware of.

More Sick Leave

Current law allows employees to accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. In the alternative, employers may frontload 24 hours of paid sick leave to employees at the beginning of the calendar year.  Employees must be able to accrue at least 24 hours of paid sick leave in the first 120 days of each calendar year. Under the new law, employers may continue to use the accrual method, so long as an employee accrues 40 hours or five days by the end of the 200th calendar day of employment. Employers also may frontload the entire paid sick leave, just as they may do now.

Bigger Carryover and “Full Amount of Leave”

Per the current California paid sick leave law, sick leave must carry over to the next calendar year, but usage can be limited to 24 hours or 3 days in a year. SB 616 increases the annual use and carryover of paid sick leave to 40 hours or 5 days and redefines the “full amount of leave” as 5 days or 40 hours.

Higher Accrual Thresholds 

Currently, an employee’s banked, accrued paid sick leave may be capped at 48 hours or 6 days, whichever is greater. Per the new law, employers may cap accrued paid sick leave at 80 hours or 10 days, whichever is greater.

More Sick Leave for Supportive Services Providers 

In-home supportive services providers now accrue 40 hours or 5 days of sick leave yearly, starting from January 1, 2024.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Employees

The amended paid sick leave law still exempts some collective bargaining agreements from the accrual requirement. However, SB 616 extends certain provisions of California’s paid sick leave law to these agreement employees. Under the modified California Labor Code Section 246.5, these employees can use paid sick leave for the same reasons as regular employees. Employers cannot require these employees to find replacements when using sick days, and retaliation is prohibited. Employees have a presumption of retaliation if adverse action occurs within 30 days of protected activity.

Local Ordinance Preemption

SB 616 takes precedence over local laws that conflict with these new sick leave rules.

Changes for Existing Paid Leave Policies

Employers should prepare for SB 616’s effective date by reviewing and revising their paid sick leave policies to comport with the new paid sick leave requirements and accrual and usage caps. Employers with paid leave policies don’t need to provide additional sick days if employees can earn at least 5 days or 40 hours within 6 months. We will continue to keep you apprised of any additional updates. Feel free to contact our legal team for assistance.

By: Kristina Kourasis, Esq.