Get To Know The California Paid Sick Leave Law, by Vincent Tong of Tong Law

Tong Law, August 6th, 2015

On July 1, 2015, the right to accrue and take sick leave under California's Paid Sick Leave Law took effect. This blog post provides information on accrual, carryover and use requirements of this state law, as amended by AB 304, effective July 13, 2015. Review the following to make sure that you are in compliance!



Employees qualify under this law and may take any sick leave, if they have: 

  • worked for the employer on or after January 1, 2015, 
  • worked for at least 30 days within a year in California, 
  • worked for the the same employer.

Employees are entitled to use accrued paid sick days starting on the 90th day of employment. 

Accrual began on July 1, 2015 or on the employee's first day of employment, which ever is later. The law covers most employees, including: 

- temporary employees, 

- employees working through a staffing agency, 

- part-time employees, 

- seasonal employees,

- out-of-state employees, so long as they fulfill the requirement of working for 30 or more days, continuous or not, in California.  


Employees who do not work for 90 days for the same employer within one year, such as seasonal employees, so long as these employees return to the same employer within 12 months from the previous separation, their accrued sick leave must be restored.



Employers may use any accrual method provided that paid sick leave accrues on a regular basis and employees will have 24 hours of accrued paid sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment each calendar year, or in each 12-month period. 



Employees can take paid sick leave to take care of themselves or family members, for preventative or pre-existing health condition, or for specified purposes if the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Sick leave may be used in increments of less than one day; however, employers may set a minimum increment use not to exceed two hours.



Employers are required to track and record sick leave accrual and use on employees' wage statements for three years. Employers are required to make payment for sick leave taken by an employee no later than the next regular payroll period after the sick leave was taken. Employees must be paid at their regular hourly rate. For nonexempt employees who earn commission or piece-rate, employer may either (1) calculate the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses paid sick time, whether or not the employee actually works overtime in that workweek; or (2) divide the employees' total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee's total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.



Every employer should have a clear paid sick leave policy. This policy may provide employees with more paid sick leave time, such as through the Paid Time Off (PTO) plan, than what the state paid sick leave law requires, but never less. Employers with terms that exceed the state law's minimum requirements, must inform employees of those additional terms. Employers with unlimited paid sick leave or PTO policies may satisfy the notice requirements by stating "unlimited" on the employees' wage statement.


Keep in mind that where local ordinances provide more generous sick leave to employees, employers must follow those more generous local guidelines.


This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. You should always contact an attorney to determine if this information is appropriate to your particular situation. This message does not establish an attorney-client relationship.



Vincent Tong is an attorney specializing in employment and business law. He was selected as a Super Lawyer - Rising Star of Northern California. Find him online at