California law requires your employer, regardless of how many employees it has, to provide 24 hours of paid sick leave per year. This sick leave is available for diagnosis, treatment, or care of your own health condition, or preventative care for you or a covered family member (child parent, stepparent, spouse, registered domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild) or a “designated person,” which is any individual related by blood, or whose association with you is equivalent to family membership. You must identify your designated person at the time you request leave, and you may designate only one person per 12-month period. You may also use paid sick leave if you or your child was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and you need the time off to handle matters such as obtaining medical attention, psychological counseling, services from a domestic violence shelter, or any relief to help ensure the victim’s health, safety, and welfare.
The law requires that you accrue paid sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, or 1.33 hours per week for employees working 40 hours per week. You can accrue up to 48 hours, or 6 days, at which point your employer can cap the accrual, but your employer can limit your use of paid sick leave to 24 hours per year. Alternatively, your employer can front-load all 24 hours of paid sick leave, with no need to track accrual. Your employer can require that you be employed for up to 90 days before being eligible to take paid sick leave.
More generous methods of accrual are allowed. Your employer can also satisfy its obligation to provide paid sick leave if it has a paid time off (“PTO”) policy that allows you to use at least 24 hours, or 3 days, for paid sick leave.
Your paystub must reflect the amount of paid sick leave you have available. Your employer must pay for the sick leave you use by no later than the next regular pay period after you take the sick leave. You must provide advance notice of your need to take sick leave if the need is foreseeable. Otherwise, provide notice as soon as practicable. Your employer cannot require you to find a replacement or find someone else to do your work when you take paid sick leave. Your employer may not count paid sick leave as an occurrence on any type of absence control or attendance policy, nor may it otherwise discipline you or discriminate against you for using paid sick leave.
Unlike vacation pay, you are not entitled to payment for accrued, unused sick leave.
If your employer violates the law regarding paid sick leave, your remedies can include payment of sick leave unlawfully withheld (and three times that amount for willful violations up to $250), back pay, interest, reinstatement, injunctive relief, penalties up to $4,000 for failing to note available sick leave on your pay stub, and attorney’s fees and costs.