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What Restaurants and Other Retailers Should Know About California’s New Mandatory Sick Leave Law

Restaurants, wineries, breweries and other businesses in California may need to restructure their instituted sick leave policies following the passing of The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 and Assembly Bill No. 304 in 2015.

California’s newly adopted law, which became effective in July 2015, makes employees of California businesses entitled to at least twenty-four hours of paid sick leave per year.

The new law applies to employers both big and small, with no “small business exemption” like that seen in many other labor laws. However, employers are given some discretion in how they choose to comply with the law. For example, a business may choose to allow its employees to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked, or the business may provide for accrual at an alternative rate of its own choosing, so long as their employees acquire the requisite total of three days (24 hours) sick leave per year. The law also authorizes employers to limit the total amount of accrual time to the requisite three days, allow employees to accrue more time, or give employees “unlimited” sick time leave. Eligible employees include full-time, part-time and even temporary employees, provided they work at least thirty days or more in a year. Yet employees cannot begin to use their accrued paid sick time until after the ninetieth day of their employment.

In 2006, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to enact a mandatory sick leave law. The city and county of San Francisco has notified its businesses that this new state law does not preempt its own “Paid Sick Leave Ordinance”, but instead makes San Francisco employers obligated to comply with both. For this reason, California businesses should take care to review their existing employee handbooks and workplace policies to maintain compliance with the law. Especially businesses located in San Francisco or other cities that have implemented mandatory sick leave ordinances, taking strides to ensure compliance with all levels of the law is important.

The new California mandatory sick leave law is codified in section 246 of the California Labor Code. For more information regarding the new law or other matters related to labor and employment law, please feel free to contact us.

© Law Offices of Stephan Passalacqua.

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