The New California Paid Sick Leave Law

Girl sneezing sickEffective July 1st, 2015 employers in California must offer their employees paid sick leave. This applies to all employers, regardless of size or number of employees.

The law has set some guidelines about accruals and usage. This is not intended to interfere with a company’s current policy but to set a minimum sick leave requirement and to help establish a sick leave policy for companies that didn’t already have one.

Sick Time Accrual vs Actual Usage

Under the new law, employees can accrue one hour for every 30 hours they work, which amounts to about 8 days of sick leave in one year for full-time employees. Employers have some flexibility on how many sick days employees actually take, though. Employers can limit the amount of sick leave taken to 3 eight hour days in one year. This is the minimum that employers must offer.

Employees begin accruing on their first day of employment or on July 1st, whichever is first. However, they cannot use the time that they accrue until they have been with the company for 90 days. Additionally, the employee must work for the company for 30 days in the year that he or she wants to use the sick time.

An employee qualifies for paid sick leave by working for an employer on or after January 1, 2015, for at least 30 days within a year in California and by satisfying a 90 day employment period (which works like a probationary period) before an employee can actually take any sick leave. –DIR

No Cash Out

Employees have no right to cash out this accrued time when their employment is terminated as they do with vacation time in California. If the employee returns within the next year, however, employees can reclaim their accrued sick time.

Sick Leave Law and In-House Policy

Employers do not have to offer this sick leave benefit if they already offer paid time off (PTO) as long it meets these new minimum sick leave requirements.


For specific questions about the new law refer to the FAQ on the Department of Industrial Relations website.

Mandatory Posting

Employees need to be informed about the laws and employers must attempt to make the new policy visible for employees. Employers must:

  • Have an updated handbook by July 1st
  • Display the new labor law poster where employees can easily read it
  • Show new hires the sick leave policy and offerings in writing at the time of hire
  • Inform employees how many days of sick leave they have available either on a pay stub or a document issued the same day as a paycheck
  • Keep records for three years on sick time earned and used

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