Thought Leadership

California Increases Number of Paid Sick Days

October 6, 2023 Advisory

On Oct. 4, 2023, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 616 which increases the amount of paid sick leave employers are required to provide to California employees, from three days to five days each year. The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Paid Leave Under Existing Law

Under California’s existing paid sick leave law, employers must provide at least 24 hours or three days off each year to most workers, including full-time, part-time and temporary workers, who meet certain eligibility requirements. Employers may provide more paid sick leave hours off and may choose how that paid sick leave is provided (up front or accrued).

Paid Leave Under SB 616

Now, SB 616 requires employers to give eligible employees at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or if calculated differently, at least 24 hours (three days) of paid leave within 120 days of employment, and at least 40 hours (five days) within 200 days. Employers are required to let employees use accrued sick time starting after 90 days of employment. Employers must also allow employees to carry over at least five sick days from year to year, and to have a maximum of at least 80 hours or 10 days of sick leave at a time.

SB 616 also includes an exemption for employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that provides for paid sick leave, subject to certain conditions. Specifically, the bill requires that such employees be permitted to use sick leave for the same reason as employees who are not subject to a CBA, such as for the “[d]iagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventative care for, an employee or an employee’s family member.” Employers may not retaliate against employees who use paid sick leave, and employees are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if the employer takes an adverse employment action within 30 days of certain protected activity.

Key Takeaways

SB 616 applies to virtually all employees in California who work 30 days or more in a year. Employers are encouraged to work promptly to update their written sick leave policies, employee handbooks and other training materials, and ensure payroll practices are in compliance with the new law, taking effect at the first of the new year. 

If you have any questions regarding SB 616 and implementing updates to your employee handbook and workplace policies, please reach out to your regular Armstrong Teasdale lawyer or one of the authors.

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