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New California Law Raises Minimum Number of Sick Days

Posted on April 29, 2024 in Employment Law

A new California Paid Sick Leave (PSL) law took effect on January 1, 2024. Based on this law, employers are required to provide most workers with a minimum of 40 hours or five days off each year. This applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary personnel who meet certain requirements. 

If you have concerns about getting the sick days you deserve at work, it may be beneficial to consult with a San Diego employment lawyer. From here, your attorney can discuss the new PSL law and how it may apply to you. They can help you determine if you have a valid case for requesting compensation from your employer. 

Paid Sick Leave Definition

In California, Paid Sick Leave refers to time given to workers that they can use to take care of themselves or family members. PSL is considered a permanent law. It requires employers to offer paid time off if employees or their family members require treatment, diagnosis, or preventative care. 

With Paid Sick Leave, an employee or their family member may use the time to recover from a mental or physical illness or injury. They may also go to a doctor to get a diagnosis, treatment, or care. If a worker needs to take care of a family member or who needs a diagnosis, treatment, or care, they may be covered under PSL.  

California Paid Sick Leave Law

If you are a full-time, part-time, or temp worker, you may be eligible for California Paid Sick Leave. To qualify, you must work for an employer for a minimum of 30 days within a one-year period. Also, you must work for at least 90 days before you take sick leave.  

State employers are legally required to offer 40 hours or five days off annually for PSL. Some choose to provide more PSL hours or days off. Several California cities and towns require employers to give their workers additional sick leave.  

In addition, there are no restrictions on how a business manages its Paid Sick Leave policy. For example, a company may allow its workers to use all of their PSL hours at one time. Or, it may require employees to earn these hours as part of an accrual plan. 

With an accrual plan, an employee must receive a minimum of one hour of PSL for every 30 hours they work. 

Paid Leave Options  

Along with Paid Sick Time, you may be eligible for vacation pay. California employers are not legally required to offer pay for vacations. If your employer provides this benefit, it may be obligated to follow through on it. 

Workers’ compensation may allow you to take time away from your job if you were injured at work. An employer must have this coverage if they have one or more workers on staff. With workers’ comp, you may receive benefits you can use while you recover from an on-the-job injury. 

Previously, Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) for COVID-19 was available. SPSL required employers to give their workers paid time off for reasons relating to COVID-19. This coverage has expired.  

How to Use Paid Sick Leave

Many California workers have the right to Paid Sick Leave, and there are regulations surrounding how to use it. For example, an employer must provide the greater of 40 hours or five workdays of PSL. If an employee usually works five 10-hour days each week, they may have the right to 50 hours or five days of sick leave. 

You may want to track the sick leave you take. In a situation where an employer does not pay you for leave time, you may be able to file a wage claim. 

Paid Sick Leave Wage Claim

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) may help you file a wage claim relating to Paid Sick Leave. You can submit your claim online. When you do, you may have to provide information about your PSL time and proof to support your claim. 

Any worker who was not paid for sick time may be able to file a claim for wages. You may have up to three years from the date of your violation to do so, per DIR.

After you submit your claim, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will conduct an investigation. A settlement conference may be scheduled between you and your employer. This may help you and your employer come to terms on an agreement relating to your wages. 

If you work as an independent contractor, you may not be able to submit a wage claim. There are times when an employer may intentionally misclassify a worker as an independent contractor. If this is happening to you, the Labor Commissioner’s Office may be able to provide assistance. 

With a wage claim, you may need to share all of the hours you worked with an employer. A lawyer who has helped past clients achieve outstanding wage claim case results may be able to gather this information and other evidence on your behalf. They can make sure your claim is filed promptly and includes proof that explains why you deserve to be paid for your sick time. 

What to Do If an Employer Will Not Let You Use Paid Sick Leave

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against a worker who wants to use their Paid Sick Leave. If you qualify for PSL and your employer fires you, reduces your work hours, or does anything else to harm you, help is available. 

You can notify the Labor Commissioner’s Office about an employer that retaliates if you plan to use your PSL. The office can investigate and work with you and your employer to resolve the situation. 

An employer lawyer may help you get the best results out of a PSL claim against your employer. If you partner with an attorney who has received many positive client testimonials, you may receive plenty of support for your claim. Your attorney can work with you to build a strong case against your employer and help you get the most damages possible. 

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