Who is Eligible for Paid Sick Leave in California?

California’s employment laws are some of the fairest and most generous to employees of all states in the country. Employees enjoy higher minimum wages, mandatory overtime compensation, and a variety of other benefits, rights, and protections by law. Mandatory paid sick leave for workers became part of California’s laws with the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (note: this act was amended in 2016 with Senate Bill 3). Find out if you’re eligible for paid sick leave under the act, and when and how you can take advantage of this right.

Eligible Employees Under the Act

All employers in California, not just the larger ones, must obey the paid sick leave law as of July 1, 2015. Not all employees qualify for paid sick leave, however. The first stipulation is that the employee must have worked for the same employer at least 30 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) in the past year. After the first 90 days of employment, the employee can begin to accrue paid sick leave hours and days. An employee cannot take paid sick leave until the end of this 90-day probationary period.

There are only a few types of employees who will never be eligible to receive paid sick leave under California law. These include some air carrier employees, retired annuitants who work for the government, and employees under collective bargaining agreements. Once an eligible employee passes the 90-day mark, he or she begins to collect one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours on the clock. Employers have the right to cap paid sick leave at 48 hours, or six workdays. Unused sick leave carries over from year to year.

Eligible employees can take paid sick leave for the care of a health condition, preventive care, doctor’s appointments, diagnoses, or issues relating to domestic violence or sexual assault. The same is true if a family member is undergoing any of these things, according to the Family Medical Leave Act. A “family member” is a spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or sibling. It is up to the employee to decide how much paid sick leave he or she needs, but employers can require minimums of two hours at a time.

Details of the Paid Sick Leave Laws in California

As an eligible employee, it’s important to understand when, why, and how you can take paid sick leave by law. Employers might not always understand the law or treat employees fairly under its provisions. Knowing your rights gives you the ability to protect them. Important details of the paid sick leave law include:

  • Employers can limit your use of paid sick leave to 24 hours per year.
  • Each paystub must include the amount of available paid sick leave.
  • If you are a seasonal employee, you can store and use paid sick leave as long as you return to the same employee within 12 months.
  • Cities can mandate special paid sick leave requirements. In San Francisco, for example, there are no caps on how much sick leave an employee can use.

There are some situations in which an employer might try to unfairly limit your sick leave, or illegally retaliate against you for taking time off. If this is the case, talk to a Los Angeles employment attorney about your rights to recovery.