The Healthy Workplaces, Health Families Act of 2014 has changed the rules for sick pay for employees, starting July 2015.

Who it applies to:

These new rules apply to all employers, no matter how many employees. The rules also apply to both full and part-time employees who are employed by the employer for 30 or more days in a year. The only exceptions are employers with policies that treat sick and vacation leave the same (PTO) whose policy meets the minimum requirement (3 days a year). So, if an employer gives three or more days combined vacation/sick pay, and it applies to full and part-time employees, then that policy can remain in place.

Easy alternative: keep it simple by not tracking accrued hours, and instead, every year (beginning of the year or from employee start date), give employee not less than 24 hours (3 days) of sick pay. By using this rule, the Employer can have a “use it or lose it” policy. Example: John, who was hired in December, would have three days of sick leave starting in December, but he would be capped at that amount. Downside: this gives employees more sick leave up front.

How sick leave may be used:

An employee is allowed to use sick leave for existing health problems or preventative care (ex: annual physical). Sick days can be used by victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Sick days can be used to care for family (children, parents, grandparents, spouse or domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling).

How sick leave may be limited:

Employees are not allowed to use their sick leave for the first 90 days of employment. Example: John is hired in December, so he can’t use his sick leave until March (even though he has been earning hours during that time). Employers can make a minimum amount of 2 hours. Example: John has ten hours of sick leave. If he goes to a dentist appointment, Employer can apply two hours of sick leave even if John is only gone for an hour.

Record keeping:

An employer is required to keep track of earned hours and give the employee an update every pay period. The update should show total hours (taking into account used and earned hours. This applies to both methods of “earning” sick leave. Employer is required to post information about sick leave with other postings.

Penalties:

Only the Labor Commissioner can enforce the regulations. For every sick day an employer does not give an employee, employer will be fined three times the number of days or $250, whichever is higher. Example: Sally has 6 days of sick leave, but Employer only acknowledges 1. If her pay is $15 per hour, she would get $45 for each hour: $1,800. For every day of delay in fixing the missing sick leave, Employer can be fined an additional $50. For intentional failure to keep proper records and posting notices, Employer can be fined $100.

There are some special rules for managers and for employees who leave the company and are rehired in the same year. If this is a concern, or there are not sure whether your employees are in another special catergory that implicates their rights, contact an attorney experienced in employment law.

— MWH

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