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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: California Paid Sick Time

NOTE: This fact sheet covers California’s statewide paid sick time law. Some California cities have their own sick time laws, which may provide additional rights. Learn more about laws in: Berkeley | Emeryville | Los Angeles | Oakland | San Diego | San Francisco | Santa Monica

 

1) What does the California Paid Sick Time law do?

California’s paid sick time law gives workers sick time that can be used to recover from physical/mental illness or injury; to seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; to care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; or to address needs that may arise if the worker is a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking. Additionally, the California Department of Industrial Relations released administrative guidance clarifying that sick time under California’s sick time law can also be used for certain COVID-19 related reasons, including if the worker:

  • Is self-quarantining as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19 if quarantine is recommended by civil authorities;
  • Has been exposed to COVID-19; or
  • Has traveled to a high-risk area.

On February 9, 2022, Governor Newsom signed S.B. 114, which gives supplemental paid sick time to certain workers in relation to COVID-19. Supplemental paid sick time is available—retroactively to January 1, 2022—to covered workers when they are unable to work or telework because they are:

  • Subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidance of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local public health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace;
  • Advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 or caring for a family member who has been so advised;
  • Experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework;
  • Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • Caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidance described above;
  • Attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or a vaccine booster; or
  • Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises. 

The law becomes effective on February 19, 2022 but applies retroactively to January 1, 2022 and remains in effect until December 31, 2022.

Between September 19, 2020 and September 30, 2021, certain workers may have had additional sick time rights in relation to COVID-19 under A.B. 1867 or S.B. 95, which are two expired measures. For more information, see the expired laws here and here.

2) Am I covered?

Under California’s permanent paid sick time law: if you work as an employee in California for at least 30 days in a year, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time, part-time, or temporary worker. However, the law does not cover federal employees, certain state and municipal employees, and certain flight deck or cabin crew employees.

Under S.B. 114: if you work as an employee for an employer with more than 25 employees, you are probably covered whether you are a full-time, part-time, or temporary worker. However, the law does not cover federal employees.

3) How much paid sick time can I earn under California’s permanent paid sick time law and receive under S.B. 114?  

Under California’s permanent paid sick time law: you earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours or 6 days per year. However, your employer may limit your use of paid sick time at 24 hours or 3 days in a year.

Under S.B. 114: The law provides two separate banks of supplemental paid sick time, with each bank providing up to 40 hours of paid sick time (depending on hours worked, as explained below). Workers can receive up to 40 hours of paid sick time for each bank, up to 80 hours total.

Bank 1 of paid sick time includes up to 40 hours of supplemental paid sick time—calculated according to hours worked, as described below—when you are unable to work or telework because:

  • You are subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 or have been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • You are caring for a family member who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or you are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
  • You or your family member are attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related side effects.

Bank 2 of paid sick time includes up to 40 hours of supplemental paid sick time—calculated according to hours worked, as described below—when you or your family member test positive for COVID-19.

For each bank, the amount of paid sick time is calculated as follows: full-time workers and workers that worked (or were scheduled to work) on average at least 40 hours per week in the 2 weeks before taking supplemental paid sick time can take up to 40 hours of supplemental paid sick time. However, active firefighters who were scheduled to work more than 40 hours in the week before taking supplemental paid sick time can take supplemental paid sick time equal to the total number of hours the firefighter was scheduled to work in that week. Other workers can take supplemental paid sick time for the total number of hours they’re usually scheduled to work over a 1-week period. However, if the worker has a variable number of hours and has worked for their employer for:

  • 6 months or more before taking supplemental paid sick time, they can take supplemental paid sick time for up to seven times the average number of hours they worked each day for their employer in the 6 months before taking supplemental paid sick time;
  • fewer than 6 months (but more than 7 days) before taking supplemental paid sick time, they can take supplemental paid sick time for up to seven times the average number of hours they worked each day over the course of their employment with the employer; or
  • 7 days or fewer, they can take supplemental paid sick time for up to the total number of hours they have worked over the course of their employment with the employer.

Unlike paid sick time under California’s permanent paid sick time law, workers do not have to earn—based on hours worked—this supplemental paid sick time for COVID-19. Note that employers may limit supplemental paid sick time used in relation to COVID-19 vaccines to up to 3 days or 24 hours unless the employee provides verification from a health care provider that they or their family member is continuing to experience symptoms related to the vaccine or booster.

Under both the permanent paid sick time law and S.B. 114, all covered workers 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 under California’s paid sick time law 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).

However, you can use supplemental paid sick time under S.B. 114 to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed or is otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

5) Which of my family members are covered by the law?

Under both California’s permanent paid sick time law and S.B. 114: you can take sick time to care for yourself or a child, spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, parent of a spouse or registered domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling.

6) What if I already have paid leave or paid time off?

Under California’s permanent paid sick time law: 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.

Under S.B. 114: supplemental paid sick time under the law is in addition to paid sick time under California’s permanent paid sick time law, and you cannot be required to use any other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off or vacation time before or instead of using supplemental paid sick time under S.B. 114. Additionally, you cannot be required to exhaust your supplemental paid sick time under this law before receiving paid leave to which you may be entitled under any Cal-OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards. However, if as of January 1, 2022, you already get paid leave from your employer that you can use for the COVID-19-related purposes explained above (under Question #1) and that would compensate you in an amount equal to or greater than the same amount you would receive under S.B. 114, then S.B. 114 does not give you any additional paid time off.

7) When can I begin using my sick time?

Under California’s permanent paid sick time law: you start earning sick time immediately but cannot use it until 90 days after the start of your employment.

Under S.B. 114: you can take supplemental paid sick time immediately, beginning February 19, 2022; as noted earlier, the requirement to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick time will also apply—and entitle covered individuals to payment for COVID-19 sick time—retroactively to January 1, 2022. Supplemental paid sick time is available until September 30, 2022.

All covered workers are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting sick or safe time or supplemental paid sick time. If you have a problem—or want more information—call A Better Balance’s free legal clinic at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

 

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office is in charge of enforcing these laws.

Please note that this fact sheet does not represent an exhaustive overview of the paid sick time laws 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.

Download a PDF of this resource here. 

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