In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the CDC has recommended that everyone take steps to protect themselves and their communities, including avoiding close contact with others. If you have to take time off work sick or your workplace is closed, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed, can you stay home with your children?
Find out more about your right to paid sick time in Berkeley, California below. Please note that you may also have an additional right to emergency paid leave for COVID-19 purposes under federal law, as described in more detail here.
NOTE: Visit here for information about California’s statewide paid sick time law.
1) What does the Berkeley Paid Sick Time law do?
It gives workers sick time that can be used to recover from physical/mental illness or injury; to seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; or to care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care.
2) Am I covered?
If you work as an employee in Berkeley for at least 2 hours in a particular week, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time, part-time, or temporary worker. However, the law does not cover federal and state employees and a few other narrow groups.
3) How much paid sick time can I earn?
You earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. If your workplace has 25 or more workers, you can earn up to 72 hours of paid sick time per year. If your workplace has fewer than 25 workers, you can earn up to 48 hours of paid sick time per year.
All covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).
4) What if my work or my child’s school or daycare is closed for a health emergency?
You cannot use your sick time because your work or your child’s school or day care is closed unless you would otherwise be able to use your sick time (for example, if you are sick or caring for a sick family member).
5) Which of my family members are covered by the law?
Under the law, you can take sick time to care for yourself or a child, spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, or, if you don’t have a spouse or registered domestic partner, a designated person of your choice.
6) What if I already have paid leave or paid time off?
If you already get any paid leave (vacation, paid time off, etc.) that you can use as sick time and it’s at least the same amount you would earn under this law, the law does not give you any additional paid time off.
7) When can I begin using my sick time?
You start earning sick time immediately but cannot use it until 90 calendar days after the start of your employment.
8) Do I need a doctor’s note?
Depending on the circumstances, your employer may require a doctor’s note.
All covered workers are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting sick or safe time. If you have a problem—or want more information—call A Better Balance’s free legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB.
Suspected violations of the paid sick time law can be reported to the Berkeley Health, Housing & Community Services Department.
Please note that this fact sheet does not represent an exhaustive overview of the paid sick time law described, and it does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that additional provisions not described in this fact sheet may apply to a worker’s specific circumstances or category of employment.