Monday, Dec 7, 2015
This page is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as advice by a legal professional. If you have any specific questions about how both the California and San Francisco paid sick leave laws apply to you, please get in touch with an employment law professional.
With this past July's enforcement of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California AB 1522), new state requirements for offering paid sick leave are now in effect. Along with San Francisco's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, both laws create an overlapping set of regulations regarding paid sick leave.
All San Francisco employers, regardless of size, must offer paid sick leave to their employees (includes temporary, part-time, full-time, exempt and non-exempt employees). The only exceptions to the law are for employees who work in San Francisco for less than 56 hours in a calendar year, and employees that are covered under a collective bargaining agreement.
Paid sick leave can be used by an employee for illness, injury, or for receiving medical care, treatment, or diagnosis. In addition, paid sick leave can also be used to care for a family member or designated person that falls ill, suffers injury, or is in need of medical care, treatment, or diagnosis.
Paid Sick Leave Law accrual rate, caps, and usage:
Paid sick leave accrues on the first day of work, and can be used ninety (90) calendar days after the start of employment. The accrual rate for paid sick leave is one (1) hour for every thirty (30) hours worked, and can be used by employees in one (1) hour increments. Payment for paid sick leave must be given at the next regular pay period after that time is used.
For hourly employees, paid sick leave wage is identical to their hourly rate. For salary non-exempt employees, paid sick leave wage can be computed by dividing that employee’s annual wage by fifty-two (52) weeks, then by the number of hours the employee is scheduled to work for one week (the hours worked in a week period must not exceed forty  hours). For salary exempt employees, paid sick leave wage can be computed by dividing that employee’s annual wage by 52 weeks, then by 40 hours (or however many hours worked during a regular work week if less than 40 hours).
Employers with fewer than ten (10) employees can cap paid sick leave accrual at forty-eight (48) hours, while employers with more than ten (10) can set a cap of at least seventy-two (72) hours. These caps are not an ‘annual limit’ of how much leave can be used, and are instead a limit of how many sick leave hours are available ‘in the bank’ for use at any one time.
Once an employee hits their cap on paid sick leave, they would not accrue any additional leave unless hours already saved ‘in the bank’ are used. For example, if an employee at a 8-person office hits their cap of 48 hours of accrued paid sick leave, then uses 30 hours due to illness, he or she can accrue additional hours of paid sick leave once back at work until they reach the 48 hour cap.
Paid Sick Leave recordkeeping and documentation:
Employers must visibly display posters from the California Labor Commission and the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement outlining employee’s rights under state and local paid sick leave laws. The SF OLSE notice must be posted in English, Spanish, Chinese, and any other language spoken by at least 5% of the employees hired. Employers must also hand a Wage Notice to non-exempt employees at the time of hire which summarizes their paid sick leave rights.
Employers must document hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, and any paid sick leave used by an employee for at least four (4) years. Employees must be notified in writing how much paid sick leave is available for use at each pay day (either included in the employee’s pay stub, or on a separate document).
If an employee has no spouse, domestic partner, or other qualifying family members, they can designate one person whom they may use paid sick leave to provide aid and care. The employer must offer the opportunity to mark a designated person within thirty (30) work hours after the first day of employment. Employers must offer the opportunity for employees to make any changes to who is their designated person on an annual basis, for a window of at least ten (10) work days.
An employer may require reasonable notice that an employee needs to use paid sick leave. This notice can be a period of time not exceeding two (2) hours before the start of work, provided exceptions are made for any events (illness, accidents, and emergences) where an advance notice requirement would be unreasonable. If an employee uses paid sick leave time for more than three (3) days, the employer can request a doctor’s note (or any other document verifying that the time taken off work is consistent with local and state paid sick leave laws).
Other legal requirements:
If an employer has a paid time leave/paid time off (PTL/PTO) policy that can also be used for paid sick leave as defined by law, they do not need to provide additional paid sick leave as long as the paid time leave/paid time off policy fulfills all the requirements of both California and San Francisco paid sick leave laws.
Employers are not required to cash out paid sick leave, and any paid sick leave accrued does not need to be paid out at separation If an employee leaves the employer, and is re-hired within one (1) year from the date of separation, the employer must re-instate any previously accrued and unused paid sick leave that was not cashed out beforehand. However, if an employer offers PTL/PTO, the employer must pay all accrued PTL/PTO at the time of separation.
Again, this is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as advice by a legal professional. If you have any specific questions about how both the California and San Francisco paid sick leave laws apply to you, please get in touch with an employment law professional or the appropriate governmental agency.