Understanding the California Sick Leave Law

By Brett Derricott

Over the last few years an increasing number of states have created or updated their sick leave laws. California updated their sick time law in 2016 and has provided additional guidance and clarifications since that time.

We frequently talk to California companies who are trying to find the best way to comply with sick leave laws. These companies want to save time and automate processes while also making sure employees have intuitive self-service access to their California sick days.

In this article we’ll highlight some of the key provisions of the California sick day laws and suggest how Built can help keep you in compliance.

So let’s dive into a few of the California sick leave law’s provisions:

  1. Applies to employees who work more than 30 days within a year from beginning of employment.
  2. Both part-time and temporary employees are included.
  3. Employees must earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked (you may choose to award more, if you’d like).
  4. The accruals start on the first day of employment (meaning, at the completion of 30 days after their hire date they should have earned their first hour of sick leave).
  5. Accrued sick leave must carry over from year to year, but you may cap account balances at 48 total hours.
  6. You may limit employees to only use 24 hours of sick time per year, even if their account balance exceeds that amount.
  7. Sick leave can be required to be used in 2 hour increments.
  8. You may restrict usage of the sick leave until after the employee has worked at least 90 days.
  9. If you don’t want to deal with accruals, you can choose to do a lump sum for every employee once per year, although this may cost you more in sick time expenses.
  10. IMPORTANT: All sick time accruals and usages must be preserved for every employee for at least 3 years!

Ok that’s a lot of info (and there are actually some additional details you should read about here, here, and here. In terms of setting up a sick leave policy, running accruals, and tracking usage though, this list is enough for our purposes.

Now that we know the basic provisions of California’s sick time laws, your next question is probably, “How in the world am I going to meet all of these requirements?”

Let’s start by breaking this down into a list of the features you’re going to need in whatever system you create or purchase to help you with this:

  1. A way to track hours worked for each employee.
  2. A way to calculate regular accruals for each employee based on the actual hours that they worked.
  3. A system for keeping track of every accrual calculated for each employee.
  4. A way to track the sick leave taken by each employee (by date).
  5. A process for calculating and recording annual carry over of sick leave.
  6. A process for keeping track of whether or not an employee has used up their 24-hour annual max (if you choose to enforce that optional rule).

At the risk of oversimplifying your options from this point, you can either 1) do all of this manually using spreadsheets, or 2) implement a time off tracking software product tailor-made for this kind of thing.

I’m biased, but unless I only had a handful of employees I’d never want to spend the hours and hours of time required to manually do all of this! I would want a system in place to automate as much of this as possible.

Because these sick laws are pretty new, most software vendors aren’t yet capable of handling all of the requirements of this law. I’ll help you get started with your research by letting you know that Built can automate and enforce all of the provisions of the California sick leave law!

We can track hours (or import them if you have another time tracking system already), automatically calculate and process accruals, then easily track the entire request/approval/usage process for sick leave. We’ll save you many hours per month and your employees will love how easy our product is to use.

Want a demo? Start a chat with us today and we’ll show you how Built works! And because this article doesn’t constitute actual legal advice, please also consult with your trusted legal/HR advisors to ensure compliance.