Don’t Let California’s Sick Leave Law Leave You Sick this New Year’s: Be Prepared to Comply on January 1!

California employers are facing a healthy dose of new requirements next month as the notice and posting provisions in the state’s recently enacted paid sick leave law take effect.  To help employers comply before ringing in the New Year, the California Labor Commissioner has published a revised Wage Theft Notice and a new workplace poster.

As we posted on September 12, the new Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 requires employers to provide up to 3 days of paid sick leave per year to employees who work in California for 30 or more days within a year from the start of their employment.  While the right to paid sick leave does not begin until July 1, 2015, the Act is silent on when its notice and posting requirements go into effect.  The California Labor Commissioner has nevertheless opined in its FAQs that these requirements take effect on January 1, 2015, which is the standard effective date of new statutes under California law.

The Act adds to the information employers must provide to new employees under the Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011.  Wage Theft Notices must inform employees that they may accrue and use sick leave; that they have a right to request and use accrued paid sick leave; that they may not be terminated or retaliated against for using or requesting accrued paid sick leave; and that they have the right to file a complaint against an employer who retaliates.

Under the Act, employers must also display a poster in a conspicuous place in each workplace.  The poster must state that employees are entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick days; the amount of sick days provided; the terms of use of paid sick days; that retaliation or discrimination against employees who request or use paid sick days is prohibited; and that employees have the right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates.  An employer who willfully violates the posting requirement is subject to a civil penalty of $100 per offense.

The new poster also reflects the Labor Commissioner’s position that the earliest date that sick leave can begin to accrue is July 1, 2015 rather than January 1.  But don’t take too much comfort in having a few extra months to comply with the accrual requirements.  Going live with paid sick leave may require various changes to your existing leave plans and HR systems, and now is the time to prepare.

Employers should consider consulting with employment counsel to ensure that their policies, procedures, and systems comply with the new law.