California Just Got Healthier

Today is game-changer for California. Thanks to the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014, which goes into effect today, millions of workers in the Golden State will now have access paid sick day protections at their workplace. After years of fighting to expand access to paid sick leave against business lobbyists who continue to insist that paid sick leave is a “job-killer”, the California Labor Movement earned a historic victory when a Labor sponsored bill, AB 1522 (authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez): Earned Sick Leave for All California Workers, was signed into law by Governor Brown in 2014. Today that law goes into effect, bringing a much needed benefit to millions of California workers. We’ve got answers on this historic victory and the new law below:

How many paid sick days can workers use under the new law?

Most employees who work in California for at least 30 days can now take up to 3 sick days per year and be paid their regular wage when they need to use paid sick leave.  This new law covers temporary, part-time, and seasonal employees who work at least 30 days within a year of their hire date.

Note: the new law provides a minimum requirement. Existing benefits guaranteeing an employee additional paid sick leave will still stand.

How long does someone have to work before accessing paid sick leave under the new law?

Workers can start to use paid sick leave covered by the new law after working for 90 days with one employer.

Is it ok for a boss to penalize a worker for using paid sick leave?

Absolutely not. The new law is very clear: employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who requests to use their paid sick leave. Employers face fines with the California Labor Commission for violations of the new law.

Furthermore, a boss cannot deny a worker access to their paid sick leave on the condition they find a co-worker to cover their shift at work.

If your employer denies you access to paid sick leave, you can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. Find your local Labor Commissioner offices here.

What can workers use paid sick leave for?

An employee can take paid leave for themselves or for a family member. Paid sick leave can be requested to use for doctor’s appointments for preventive care (including annual physicals or flu shots) or care of an existing health condition. The new law also grants paid sick leave to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. 

“Family members” can include the employee’s:

  • Parent
  • Child
  • Spouse/registered domestic partner
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling 

For partial days, an employer can require an employee to take at least two hours of leave, but otherwise it’s up to the employee how much paid sick leave to use.

How can I find out more about the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act?

Visit the State of California’s FAQ and Resources page for the new law here.

Do all workers have access to these benefits?

No. Unfortunately, homecare providers in California were not included in this law. We still have work to do to ensure ALL Californians can access paid sick leave. It’s good for our state when folks who are sick can stay home and get better or help their family when needed.

Today is historic for millions of workers in California but it’s important to keep up the fight until ALL workers have paid sick leave. Onwards!