CA Update: HWHFA Requires All Employers to Review their Paid Sick Leave Policies

HWHFA Requires All Employers to Review their Paid Sick Leave Policies

by Hillary Erbert, Associate Accountant

On September 10, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” (HWHFA), which establishes minimum requirements for paid sick leave accrual for most employees who work in California.  This law impacts all employers, regardless of their size or nonprofit status.  Companies that already provide paid sick or personal leave will need to carefully review their policies to ensure they meet all the requirements.

Employee Rights under HWHFA:

  • Employees who work 30 days or more during a year are entitled to accrue paid sick leave. The bill does not define how many hours of work is considered one work day, and the 30 days of work must be with the same employer.
  • The minimum accrual rate is 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • Accrual begins on July 1, 2015 or the date of employment, whichever is later.
  • An employee is eligible to use their paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.
  • Sick leave can be requested verbally or in writing.
  • Employees cannot be required to find a replacement as a condition for using sick days.
  • Employees can take paid leave for their own or a family member’s diagnosis, care, or treatment, and for certain preventative treatments.

For example, suppose a small business hired a temporary employee to work part-time for 14 weeks during a peak period of business.  The temporary employee agreed to work 4 hours per day twice a week.  The employee would work a total of 112 hours, accruing 3.7 hours of sick leave from the date they begin working, and potentially be eligible to use the sick leave after the first 90 days of employment (the 90th day of employment would occur during week 13). However, because the employee did not work for 30 days (2 days a week x 14 weeks = 28 days total), they are ineligible to use any of the paid sick leave.

Requirements for Employers:

  • Display a poster on paid sick leave where employees can read it easily.
  • Provide written notice to employees of paid sick leave rights at the time of hire.
  • Provide the minimum amount of paid sick leave described above.
  • Allow eligible employees to use their sick leave upon reasonable request.
  • Show how many days of sick leave an employee has available. This must be on a pay stub or on a document issued the same day as a paycheck.
  • Maintain records going three years back showing how many hours have been earned and used.
  • Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee who reasonably requests paid sick days.

Employer Rights:

  • Employers can limit the amount of paid sick leave that an employee can use in one year to 24 hours.
  • Sick leave can be carried over from year to year, but employers can limit the total sick leave to 48 hours.
  • Employers are not required to pay out unused sick leave when employment ends.

If an employer does not comply with these regulations, they may be subject to fines up to $4,000 per violation.

Feel free to contact our firm if you have specific questions or concerns on how this law will impact your business.

There is additional information and resources on California’s website under the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ab1522.html.

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