Ask a California employment lawyer:
What rights do I have to sick leave?
You try to stay healthy. You wash your hands before every meal. You carry antibacterial lotion with you before going on an airplane. You take vitamins. But, inevitably, there comes a time when you will rise from bed feeling like a truck ran over you in the middle of the night. You probably feel like you are in a real pickle. Your boss may make you feel that you’re desperately needed and you can afford no time off. However, if you come into the office, you risk the death stares of your co-workers who treat you like a biological terrorist.
Being sick is a catch-22 situation. Recently, the California legislature passed a new sick leave law which will make this decision a lot easier. The law, which will be in effect in July 2015, requires almost all employers to give you at least three paid sick days per year.
The law was passed in part out of concern for you and your co-workers. The legislature even stated: “Providing workers time off to attend to their own health care and the health care of family members will ensure a healthier and more productive workforce in California.” AB1522 1(d). But, how does the law work?
You have rights to 24 hours of sick leave per year.
As soon as the law goes into effect, you will be entitled to at least 24 hours of sick leave per year. You will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours you worked on the job.
You will be entitled to at least 24 hours of sick leave per year.
A woman once called me because she had just been fired from her job for taking off sick. Her employer did not have a sick leave policy and her child was sick. She was a single mother who made the smart choice to stay home to care for her child. But then she was fired! She had heard about this new law but didn’t think she had any rights because the law hadn’t yet been enacted. She was thrilled when I told her about her rights under other laws, such as gender and marital status discrimination. Although those laws also cover you, this new law will make it much easier to enforce your rights to sick leave.
Your employer must bank up to 48 hours of sick leave.
Previously, your employer probably had a “use it or lose” it policy in regards to sick leave. Under those circumstances, if you don’t use your sick leave by the end of the year, you could lose it, like monthly minutes on your cellular plan. However, with the passage of this new law, employers can’t stop you from using hours you’ve earned and accrued, as long as you haven’t accrued more than 48 hours (six days) in your bank.
What are your rights if your employer provides all 3 sick days at the beginning of the year?
Your employer can give you your paid sick leave at the beginning of each year. If this happens, no accrual or carryover is required. However, you will get at least three new sick days in the next year.
How much will your employer have to pay for sick time?
You have a right to be paid at your “regular rate” (salary or hourly rate) for sick time used. However, if your pay fluctuates ( i.e. you get a commission), your employer will divide your total compensation for the previous 90 days by the number of hours worked and pay you that rate.
You have a right to use sick time If you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
As a victim of domestic violence or abuse, the last thing you want to worry about is how you will afford to protect your rights while working with the justice center and law enforcement to get the proper restraining orders or appear in court.
Employers can’t stop you from using hours you’ve earned and accrued.
Employers are required to allow you to use some or all of these days for time off that you need as a result of being a domestic violence or sexual assault victim. You have the right to get the help you need without fear of getting paid or losing your job.
Your employer can’t retaliate against you because you took sick leave.
If your boss fires, demotes, or bullies you because you requested or took sick leave under this bill, you may pursue a claim for whistleblower retaliation. You have a right to a workplace free of discrimination and harassment because you took or requested leave you are entitled to under the law. It is unfair and illegal for your employer to treat you wrongfully because you are sick.
Fight the injustice!
Don’t give up! If you feel you’re being treated unfairly, contact us. Tell us all of your concerns and we can explain your rights to you.
Please make an appointment for a free consultation in our Newport Beach office. You can contact us by email or phone. We want to help.