California Sick Leave Law 2024 | Workers Entitlement and How to Comply

california sick leave law

According to research, California happens to be the second state in the US that offers sick leave pay to its employees. The policy was adopted in 2014. Usually in the past years, there’s no federal law of such that gives employers the mandate to pay workers during sick leave.

The policy was passed into the Senate Bill and took effect on the 1st of January. Now, California workers get paid five sick days in a year, from the three days employers were normally expected to pay.

In this post, we’ll be exploring the California sick leave law, the rights of employees, compliance acts expected from employers, main points in the law, and the ways to manage sick leave accrual and usage effectively.

What Is The California Sick Leave Law?

The Sick Leave Law is an essential facet of the employment rules in the state. It enhances the shaping of the rights of employees while enforcing important obligations on the employers.

Certain states like California enforced mandatory laws of paid sick leave. Most of the employers in the state are expected to give paid sick leave to their workers.

So, what is a paid sick leave law?

The paid sick leave law is the period when employees get paid as a result of health-related issues. With paid sick leave, employers pay their employees during the time of illness until they recover from such illness or injury. While many states don’t enforce this law, California happens to have enforced a paid sick leave law.

California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA) expects most employers in California to offer paid sick leave to their workers. The state’s employers who go by this law also have to follow the rules of the state. A California employer must provide and keep records of paid sick leave to his eligible employees.

The paid sick leave law differs from other paid time off (PTO) employers give and is not part of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

What Does California Sick Leave Cover?

The paid sick leave can either be used by employees to cater or care for themselves or some family member for any of the following reasons:

  • Treatment of a health condition (this for either employee or family member).
  • Diagnosis or preventative care of an injury or illness (this for either employee or family member).
  • Cure from sexual abuse, domestic violence, or stalking (employee).

In the California paid sick leave law, the only set of employee’s family members that can benefit from the law include parents, grandparents, children, partners, and siblings.

It is however important to note that the pay can’t be used for travel, relocation, or personal things that aren’t health-related. 

Who Must Provide California Sick Leave?

As stated earlier, the paid sick leave law is mandatory only for most California employers. On the contrary, the following set of employers can’t offer the paid sick leave law:

Employers who already have a collective bargaining agreement with their workers.

– Dealers of in-home supportive services.

– Companies that provide certain air carriers.

What Kind Of Employees Are Covered in The California Sick Leave?

Employers have to give paid sick leave to the following set of employees:

  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Temporary
  • Seasonal

Additionally, both salaried and hourly workers are eligible to get paid sick leave.

Note that, retired government workers who are likewise getting annuities are devoid of the California paid sick leave law.

Coverage and Accrual Rules

The condition for California-paid sick leave is that the employee must have worked at least 30 days in a year. And can start getting paid sick leave after working for that same employer for 3 months. Moreso, the recording starts on the first day the employee resumes work.

Furthermore, employers can reduce the amount of paid sick leave recorded by an employee to 80 hours in a year. They can also limit the amount of paid sick leave that can be gotten by an employee in a year to 40 hours or 5 days.

If by any chance an employee got rehired within a year, such an employee is entitled to receive recorded paid sick leave before they had left. In case such an employee was paid his recorded sick leave at the end of the former employment, the employee now has to record another paid sick leave upon the new rehire date.

Rules that Govern Providing Sick Pay in California

The HWHFA has certain requirements for how much employers must pay employees for paid sick leave. Note that employers must pay hourly workers entitled to paid sick leave at the same rate of pay given to full-time workers. 

There are two ways to pay hourly workers for sick leave:

– Using the regular, non-overtime rate for the salaried worker. An employer should calculate the rate by dividing the total non-overtime income by the total of non-overtime hours the employee worked.

– Employers should determine the total compensation in 90 days, not including any overtime pay. Then divide the total compensation by the number of non-overtime hours worked.

In essence, employers must pay salaried workers the same way they pay other types of paid leave (such as vacation or PTO). Moreso, it’s prohibited for an employer to reduce his employee’s wage amount because they apply for California-paid sick leave.

Worker’s Eligibility

1) Workers who work full-time, part-time, and temporarily are all eligible for paid sick leave. In as much, they’ve worked in California for 30 days or more within a year commencing from the first hire date for the same employer during the period.

2) Not all family members of the employee are entitled but the employee’s spouse, registered domestic partner, child, parent or step-parent, grandparent, parent-in-law, grandchild, and sibling. 

The paid sick leave can also be used by employees who suffered from domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking to help seek medical attention, hire the service of a counselor, or engage in safety planning. 

Requirements For The California Sick Leave

According to the California paid sick leave law, certain requirements are expected by employers. They’re to make certain information and records about the policy of their paid sick leave given to their hourly workers working in California.

The requirements are as follows:

1) Fill the “Employee,” “Employer,” “Wage Information,” and “Paid Sick Leave” sections of the notice for each of his employees based in California.

2) Input his company’s workers’ comp policy number (which is listed on the workers’ comp certificate of insurance (COI) of the company’s Document Center. In situations where the COI isn’t found in the company’s Document Center, the employer should contact Justworks’ Support); and 

3) Upload a copy of the completed notice to each employee’s Document Center. And ensure to inform the employee about the development.

Employer obligations

1) Tender a written notice of paid sick leave availability in a situation where new employees were hired.

2) State available sick leave balances on employee’s pay stubs or make use of separate documentation along with an employee’s paycheck.

3) Ensure all employees get the Notice.

4) Post the paid sick leave poster where employees can easily see and read it.

5) Keep records of all paid sick leave paid to employees and the amount of time used by each employee for a minimum of three years. 

6) Lastly, track this sick leave period separately from other types of leave.

Be aware that employers don’t have the right to scold their employees who use their recorded paid sick leave. 

Calculating California paid sick leave

There are two methods of calculating paid sick leave for employees in California:

  • Time accrual
  • Lump sum

These two methods are from the state law and may be different from the local laws.

Time Accrual

In the accrual method, workers get one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they’ve worked. Generally, employers are expected to give at least 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave to their employees each year.

Other record methods are allowed in as much as they follow the law. Employees are to record paid sick leave every month.  

Lump Sum 

This method, also known as front-loading, has to do with when employees get their paid sick leave at once to use as soon as they become eligible.

With this method, employees are given 24 hours or 3 days at the beginning of the sick leave period. The accrual method should not be used if an employer offers paid sick leave in a lump sum at the beginning of the period, that is, it can’t be changed over time. 

What Happens To Unused Accrued Sick Leave?

In a case where employees happen not to use their sick leave after a year, it’s allowed to carry over such pay to the next year. If by chance an employee carries the leave over time, the paid sick leave can then be limited to 80 hours.

For instance, if the employee has a record of 88 hours of paid sick leave and wants to carry over the hours. According to the law, employers can reduce the period to 80 hours or 10 days. That will be the most amount an employee can carry over to another year.

Cities With Law That Differ From State Law

As much as California has laws that govern paid sick leave, some cities in the state have different laws apart from the California law. Employers have to follow both the state and local laws when providing sick leave to eligible employees. 

Certain cities with different paid sick leave laws include:

  • Berkeley
  • Emeryville
  • Los Angeles
  • Long Beach
  • Oakland
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Monica

These cities may also have different obligations given to employers considering the magnitude of their business. For instance, San Francisco requires employers of small businesses to offer 40 hours of paid sick leave to their employees and 72 hours to other businesses.


1) Who Is Eligible For The California Sick Leave?

Under California state law, if a worker has 30 or more working days in a year, such an individual is eligible for paid sick leave.

PSL is available whether an employee works: full-time, part-time, or temporarily.

However, there may be some limits if:

  • An employee is a city, state, or government worker, 
  • An employee is subject to a collective bargaining agreement with the employer,
  • Employee works as an in-home supportive service provider, or
  • The employee works for an air carrier.

2) How Much Paid Sick Leave Can an Employee Take?

According to the mandate which took effect on the 1st of January, 2024, employers should pay full-time employees 40 hours (or five days) of paid sick leave per 12-month period. This means that such a worker earns a minimum of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

By the 120th day of employment, an employee can take up to 24 hours of PSL. By the 200th day of employment, such a worker can take all 40 hours.

Also, It is important to note that some cities in California have sick leave ordinances that offer greater PSL benefits than what the state law requires.

3) How Many Sick Days Does an Employee Get If He Works As a Part-time Worker in California?

Part-time employees get a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked from their employers. Employees start accruing their paid sick leave immediately on their first day at work.

4) Can Employers Deny Sick Days?

No. The California Labor Code says:

An employer shall not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days, attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick days, filing a complaint with the department or alleging a violation of this article, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article, or opposing any policy or practice or act that is prohibited by this article.

5) Can an Employee File a Claim against his/Her Employer?

An employee can file a civil lawsuit for his employer if the employer fails to give the required PSL time. Refuses to pay the employee during his accrued PSL, or even violates the paid sick leave policies.

Employers may also not retaliate against employees taking valid leave, cooperating in a labor violation investigation, or complaining about labor violations. Retaliation can however result into:

– Demotion,

– Threat to fire employee,

– Threat to report immigration violations,

– Reducing pay, and/or

– Terminating such employees.

If an employer retaliates against an employee based on PSL or protected leave, such employee is advised to talk to a California labor and employment lawyer about the case and how to get the money such employee is owed.


The California sick leave law is indeed a crucial development that enhances the rights of employees. Thanks to the new legislation that took effect on January 1st, 2024.

Employers now understand their obligations towards employees regarding sick leave.



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