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Taking Care of Yourself, Taking Care of California: Understanding the New Paid Sick Leave Laws

California New Paid Sick Leave LawsAs of January 1, 2024, California ushered in a new era of employee well-being with the expansion of the Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act (HWHFA). This landmark legislation significantly increases the amount of paid sick leave available to workers across the state, paving the way for a healthier and more equitable workforce.

Previously, the HWHFA mandated three days or 24 hours of paid sick leave per year. However, the amendments brought forth by Senate Bill 616 have increased this amount, granting employees five days or 40 hours of paid sick leave annually, whichever is more. This substantial increase aligns California with some of the most progressive sick leave policies in the nation, helping ensure that workers no longer have to choose between their health and their paycheck.

What does this mean for you?

Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or temporary employee, the new HWHFA provisions apply to you if you work for the same employer for at least 30 days within a year and complete a 90-day employment period before taking any paid sick leave. This expanded coverage guarantees access to paid leave for a wider range of workers, fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

Employers can choose between providing all the sick leave “up front” at the beginning of the year, or providing it on an “accrual” basis, where an employee earns sick leave over time.  Under the “accrual” method, not all of the sick time is available at the beginning of the year, however some of that time can roll over if unused to subsequent years.  Under an “up front” policy, for any new employees, 3 days or 24 hours must be available for use by the 120th calendar day of employment and 5 days or 40 hours must be available for use by the 200th calendar day of employment.

The increased leave entitlement may offer:

  • Greater flexibility: With 40 hours or 5 days of leave available, employees can comfortably address various health needs, from routine doctor’s appointments to unexpected illnesses, without financial strain.
  • Improved employee well-being: Access to paid leave encourages employees to prioritize their health, leading to a decrease in presenteeism (working while sick) and a healthier workforce overall.
  • Boosted morale and productivity: When employees feel their well-being is valued, they experience increased morale and engagement, leading to improved productivity and reduced turnover.
  • Enhanced business resilience: Businesses with healthy and happy employees are better equipped to handle challenges and thrive in the long run.

Beyond the increased leave

The HWHFA amendments also provide additional protections for employees:

  • Protections for non-retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who exercise their right to paid sick leave.
  • Clearer notice requirements: Employers should provide written notice to employees about the amount of sick leave available and any applicable policies.

Navigating the new landscape

While the expanded HWHFA offers significant benefits, navigating the nuances of the law can be complex. Matern Law Group is here to help. Our team of experienced employment law attorneys can answer your questions, ensure your rights are protected, and advocate for your well-being in the workplace.


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