Paid Sick Leave Entitlement Increases from Three to Five Days Annually (SB 616)

sick leave note and stethoscope

Recently, the paid sick leave entitlement in California was increased from three to five days annually, thanks to bill SB 616. This significant change brings new opportunities for employees to prioritize their health and well-being.

At Kershaw Talley Barlow, we understand the importance of a healthy workforce, and we are here to support you in utilizing this benefit to its fullest potential. In this blog, we will explore how you can make the most of this increased entitlement and provide practical tips to navigate common issues that may arise.

Background: Paid Sick Leave in California

California has been at the forefront of labor rights, and the provision of paid sick leave is one of the key areas where the state has consistently worked to protect workers. The initial paid sick leave law in California, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, provided eligible employees with the right to accrue and use at least three days of paid sick leave per year.

Under the existing law, employees earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a cap of 48 hours or six days per year. This leave can be used for the employee's own health condition, the care of a family member, or for various reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Key Provisions of SB 616

Senate Bill 616, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, builds on the foundation laid by the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act. The primary change brought about by SB 616 is the increase in the minimum annual paid sick leave entitlement from three to five days.

Here are the key provisions of SB 616:

  1. Increased Entitlement: Effective January 1, 2024, eligible employees in California will be entitled to a minimum of five days or 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

  2. Accrual and Usage: The accrual and usage mechanisms remain largely the same. Employees will still earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The additional two days are intended to provide more flexibility and support for workers dealing with health-related issues or caring for family members.

  3. Existing Accrual Caps: While the minimum entitlement has increased, the existing caps on accrual and usage remain intact. Employees can still accrue up to 48 hours or six days of paid sick leave, but the new law ensures that at least five days are available for use.

  4. Expanded Definition of Family Members: SB 616 expands the definition of family members for whom an employee can use paid sick leave to include additional categories, such as a designated person.

Implications for Employers

The passage of SB 616 has implications for employers in California, requiring them to update their policies and practices to align with the new minimum paid sick leave entitlement. Here's what employers need to consider:

  1. Policy Updates: Employers should review and update their sick leave policies to reflect the increased minimum entitlement of five days. Ensuring that written policies are in compliance with the new law is crucial for avoiding legal issues.

  2. Accrual Tracking: Human resources and payroll departments should adjust their systems to accurately track the accrual and usage of paid sick leave. This includes updating records to reflect the increased entitlement and ensuring that employees are aware of the changes.

  3. Communication: Employers should communicate the changes to employees, making them aware of the increased minimum entitlement and any adjustments to the use of paid sick leave. Clear and transparent communication can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure compliance.

  4. Anti-Retaliation Measures: Employers should continue to uphold anti-retaliation measures, ensuring that employees feel comfortable using their entitled sick leave without fear of adverse consequences.

In Conclusion

Senate Bill 616 represents a positive step toward enhancing worker benefits and adapting to the changing needs of the workforce in California. By increasing the minimum paid sick leave entitlement from three to five days, the state is acknowledging the importance of supporting employees' health and well-being. Employers should promptly update their policies and systems to comply with the new law and foster a workplace culture that prioritizes the health and rights of workers.

At Kershaw Talley Barlow, we are committed to supporting you in utilizing this benefit and ensuring a healthy work-life balance. Contact our business litigation attorneys today to learn more about how we can assist you in navigating the new regulations and optimizing your paid sick leave entitlement.

Kershaw Talley Barlow is available by phone at (916) 520-6639 or contact us online