Labor Commissioner’s Office Releases New Paid Sick Leave FAQs

On March 29, 2017, the California Department of Industrial Relations Labor Commissioner’s Office issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address the statewide paid sick leave law and its interaction with “grandfathered” paid time off (PTO) and attendance policies (those in existence prior to July 1, 2015).

As background, the California State Paid Sick Leave law, which went into effect on July 1, 2015, requires that eligible employees must accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked starting from the date of hire. Employees may use paid sick leave for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment or care of an existing health condition, preventive care for an employee or family member, or leave due to being the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. There is also a poster requirement for applicable employers.

The new FAQs address three common questions received from employers with pre-existing PTO policies. The first FAQ confirms that if an existing PTO policy provides adequate or more generous paid sick leave than mandated by the law, then the employer is permitted to continue providing the same PTO plan. The second FAQ verifies that the prescribed rate of pay calculation methods to be used for paid sick leave are not applicable to any other types of leave. The third FAQ generally says that employers are prohibited from disciplining an employee for taking any earned, unused paid sick leave (i.e., blanket penalties for unscheduled absences/tardiness may be prohibited).

Therefore, applicable employers should ensure any pre-existing PTO and attendance policies are in line with the new FAQs and the state’s mandated paid sick leave law. Employers may want to work with outside counsel to incorporate any employment or labor law issues, both at the state and federal levels, with respect to leaves of absence.

California Paid Sick Leave FAQs »