FAQs Issued for New California Paid Sick Leave Requirements

Keenan Briefings

Briefings

FAQs Issued for New California Paid Sick Leave Requirements

January 29, 2024

As noted in our briefing, California Enacts New Time Off Requirements, California’s SB 616 (Chapter 309, Statutes of 2023) amended the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act to expand paid sick leave requirements. On December 12, 2023, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued guidance in a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), explaining how to administer the newly expanded paid sick leave time.

The FAQs clarify that an employer determines how the year is measured for purposes of paid sick leave. An employer can choose a calendar year, fiscal year, or other 12-month period, including a year measured by the employee’s anniversary date.

The FAQs also clarify that the amount of paid sick leave afforded to an employee can be measured in days or hours, whichever is greater. So, an employee that takes three days of paid sick leave but only works five-hour days would still have 25 hours of paid sick time available. An employee who works 10-hour days would have a total minimum of 50 hours of paid sick leave.

Under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, employers have been allowed to either provide all of employees’ paid sick leave at the beginning of the year (up-front) or allow employees to accrue paid sick leave time as they work (accrual). Both options are available under SB 616 as well. The FAQs clarify how an employer that uses the up-front method would transition to the new leave amounts in 2024.  If an employer utilized the up-front method prior to January 1, 2024 and provided an employee with three days or 24 hours of leave on the employee’s anniversary date, the employer has the choice to either frontload the two additional days on January 1, 2024 or move the measurement of the yearly period to January 1, 2024 and frontload five days. The FAQs give the following example:

An employee started on May 1, 2021, and the employer used that anniversary date to frontload three days or 24 hours on May 1, 2023. The employer may either provide two days or 16 hours on January 1, 2024 and keep the May 1 date to frontload, or can reset the frontload date to January 1, 2024 and provide the employee five days or 40 hours then.

The following chart details the administration of the up-front and accrual methods under the law before January 1, 2024 and after.


Before January 1, 2024 Beginning January 1, 2024

Up-front leave amount, provided at the beginning of each year of employment/calendar year/12-month period

24 hours (3 days)

40 hours (5 days)

Accrual method—rate of accrual

At least one hour/30 hours worked

At least one hour/30 hours worked

Timing of accrual if employer uses different method

24 hrs. (3 days) by 120th calendar day of employment

24 hrs. (3 days) by 120th calendar day of employment

AND
40 hrs. (5 days) by the 200th calendar day of employment

Year-to-year carryover right

24 hours (3 days)

40 hours (5 days)

Total accrual right

48 hours (6 days)

80 hours (10) days

Paid leave exemption

Employee eligible to earn at least 24 hours (3 days) of leave within 9 months of employment

Employee eligible to earn at least 40 hours (5 days) of leave within 6 months of employment


Next Steps

Employers should ensure that their paid leave and paid sick leave policies are updated to reflect the new law. Additionally, employers should be sure they are using the latest Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act Poster and revised Notice under Labor Code § 2810.5. 


Keenan is not a law firm and no opinion, suggestion, or recommendation of the firm or its employees shall constitute legal advice. Clients are advised to consult with their own attorney for a determination of their legal rights, responsibilities, and liabilities, including the interpretation of any statute or regulation, or its application to the clients’ business activities.