NEW LAW ALERT EFFECTIVE JULY, 2015 – HEALTHY WORKPLACES, HEALTHY FAMILIES ACT OF 2014

WELL…..THERE THEY GO AGAIN!  The Calif. Legislature and our Governor have joined together to further confound California Employers already reeling from the last deluge of costly and quarrelsome laws foisted upon them in January. It is not our calling to politicize the source of Bills that have recently been signed into law. On the other hand, it is clear and apparent that Equilibrium is no longer considered a tenet for authors of Calif. Employment Law.

Our task now is to bring awareness to our Employer Clients, explain the nuances of a new law and advise how best to comply and avoid complaints and litigation going forward. Please don’t hesitate to contact our offices should you have questions or concerns. (Read-on for Brian Ewing’s article summarizing AB-1522.)

“HEALTHY WORKPLACES, HEALTHY FAMILIES ACT OF 2014”

The California legislature recently passed, and Governor Brown has now signed, the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.” In short, this bill requires essentially all California employers to provide paid sick time to most full and part time employees, or face fines and other onerous penalties.

Sick time requirement

This new law mandates that employers provide to their employees paid sick time at the rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked.  Employees are entitled to use paid sick time starting on their 90th day of employment for their own illness, to care for an ill family member, or for court dates, medical treatment or counseling if they are victims of domestic violence.

Unused sick time carries over from year to year, however, a company may limit an employee to using 24 hours, or 3 sick days, per year. Accrual of sick time can be capped at 6 days, or 48 hours. Unused sick time does not need to be paid when the employee stops working for the company (unlike vacation time.)  However, if an employee is rehired within a year, past accrued sick time must be reinstated.

Sick time is paid at the employees’ hourly rate.  However, if the employee has varied hourly rates, or is paid commissions, piece rates, or salary, the sick time must be paid at a rate determined by dividing the employees’ total wages over the past 90 days (excluding overtime pay) by the total hours worked over the past 90 days. (This is similar to, but not precisely like, the “regular rate” for purposes of overtime pay.)

Applicability 

This law applies to employers of all sizes in California, and goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The sick time must be provided to all employees who work over 30 hours per year, regardless of whether they are full time or part time. The requirement does not apply to workers subject to collective bargaining agreements that meet certain criteria, providers of in-home supportive services, and certain airline employees.

Information requirements

Information about accrued and used sick time must be included as part of each employee’s itemized wage statement. Employers must also include certain new language in the notice to new hires required by California Law. The statute also includes workplace posting requirements to inform workers of their right to take paid sick time, and requires records of sick time be maintained for each employee for three years.

Steps to take

Employers must prepare to have a paid sick time policy that meets the above requirements by July 1, 2015, which specifically allows employees to take at least three paid sick days per year. Employers must also keep accurate sick time records along with other payroll records, ensure sick time is reported on pay stubs, and ensure that their 2015 employment law poster contains the information mandated by the new law. (Cal Chamber’s 2015 poster will likely comply with the new requirement.) Employers should provide future new hires with informational forms that include the new required language. (Presumably the California Labor Commissioner will post an updated template form for employers to use.) If an employer already has a sick time policy that meets the above requirements, no policy changes need to be made, but make sure to implement the posting and record keeping changes as necessary.

Enforcement

The new law prohibits retaliation against employees who seek to assert their rights under the statute. The law also allows employees to file claims with the Labor Commissioner, or in court, to seek withheld payments for sick time, reinstatement, back pay, and/or administrative penalties for violations of its provisions, including the record keeping and informational provisions.n

By: Brian E. Ewing, Esq.

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