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How is paid sick leave allocated under California law?

Posted on May 25, 2017 | Firm News,Wage & Hour Laws

Last week, our blog began discussing how many people often feel anxious about calling in sick to work, as some are concerned about falling behind or missing important meetings, and still others are fearful of possible retaliatory measures by their employer.

To that end, we discussed how qualifying workers here in California — including full-time, part-time, temporary and per diem employees — should take comfort in the fact they are delegated certain rights relating to paid sick leave under 2015’s Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act.


In general, state law dictates that all qualifying employees must be provided with a minimum of 24 hours (i.e., three days) of paid sick leave — and the ability to use it — by their employer each work year.

In general, there are two models by which this paid sick can be allocated to employees:

  • No accrual/upfront policy: These policies grant the full amount of paid sick leave (at least 24 hours) to employees for immediate use at the start of each new work year/12-month period (with the exception of new hires who must receive it by the 120th day of employment).
  • Accrual policy: These policies grant paid sick leave to employees over the course of the work year. While employers are free to utilize different models by which sick leave is earned, it must result in a minimum of 24 hours of paid sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment in a given work year/12-month period. In general, this occurs when an employee earns at least one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours of work performed.

It’s important to understand that even though an employee may accrue more than 24 hours of paid sick leave, it’s legally permissible for an employer to 1) limit use of paid sick leave to only 24 hours per year (with the excess carrying over) and 2) limit the amount of paid sick leave that can be accrued to 48 hours (i.e., six days) per year.

We’ll revisit this conversation in a future post. In the meantime, if you believe that your employer has taken illegal actions concerning your earnings, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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