What Employers Need to Know About California’s New Paid Sick Leave Law (SB 616)
On October 4, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 616 (SB 616) into law. The statute expands paid sick level protections for workers. It is crucial that all employers in California understand what responsibilities they have—and evaluate whether their obligations are changing—as of SB 616’s effective date, January 1, 2024. In this article, our California employment attorney provides an in-depth overview of California SB 616—the new paid sick leave law.
SB 616 Expands Paid Sick Leave Requirements (40 Hours Per Year for Full-Time Workers)
Expanding on already existing law, SB 616 required employers in the state to provide more minimum mandatory paid sick leave to more employees. Under the new law, covered employers must provide a minimum of 40 hours (equivalent to 5 days) of paid sick leave per year to full-time workers. Notably, part-time workers are still covered by the law—but will receive fewer hours based on the time they worked. The bill requires a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, if the employer uses the accrual method. This article explains some of the nuance of SB 616.
Virtually All Employees in California are Covered By the Law
A cornerstone of SB 616 is its broad application to offer protections to virtually all employees operating within California. Only certain railroad workers are exempt. Employers should be aware of the broad scope of coverage of SB 616. Workers who complete 30 or more days of employment under the same employer within a year from their employment commencement are beneficiaries of the law’s provisions.
Employers May Limit Both Annual Use and Total Accrual (But Limits are Rising)
While SB 616 is generous in its allocations, it does permit employers to exercise some control over employees’ use of sick leave. Employers can cap, or limit, sick leave to 40 hours each calendar year. Further, the law allows employers to cap the total amount of paid sick leave that is accrued by an employee at 80 hours (ten typical 8-hour workdays). Of course, these are minimum mandatory standards. Employers can provide more comprehensive paid sick leave.
Employers can use “front-loaded” paid sick leave of five (5) days or 40 hours to avoid any carry over of unused sick leave into the next (calendar or anniversary) year. If an employer uses the “accrual method” of one hour for every 30 worked, three (3) days or 24 hours must be accrued and available to the employee as of the 90th calendar day of work, while the additional two (2) days or 16 hours of paid sick leave accrues as of the 200th calendar day of work. Our attorneys believe this different option will be confusing and lead employers to violate the law’s requirements unintentionally.
Businesses and Organizations Should Review and Update Paid Sick Leave Policies
Businesses and organizations in California must be in full compliance with SB 616 as of January 1, 2024. Employers should review meticulously and, if needed, update their existing paid sick leave policies with the help of legal counsel. Among other things, some key steps may include revising employee handbooks, articulating the changes to ensure clear communication and understanding among employees, and providing new training to human resources (HR) personnel.
Contact Our California Employment Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, our California employment attorney helps businesses and organizations find workplace solutions. If you have any questions about California’s new paid sick leave law, please do not hesitate to contact us today for a completely confidential appointment. We advocate for employers in Riverside County and throughout the State of California.