HR Minute

Sick Leave State Law Changes for 2015

Posted In Sick Leave

California

On January 1, 2015, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California's paid sick leave act) went into effect. Under the law, employers with employees who work in California will need to provide up to 24 hours or three days of paid sick time to current and new employees beginning on July 1, 2015. On June 22, the California Assembly passed amendments to the sick leave law. The amendments must also pass the State Senate by a two-thirds vote and then be signed by the governor. They are expected to pass as they merely clarify the original law.

Notable points concerning the legislations:

Threshold – The act applies to any employer that has at least one employee who works more than 30 days in a year in the state of California. 

Accrual – Employees accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked (including overtime hours). Employees who are exempt administrative, executive, or professional employees accrue sick time based on the employee's normal work week or a 40-hour work week, whichever is less. Under the pending amendment, other accrual methods, such as providing a set amount per pay period or per quarter, will now comply with the statute provided that the employee accrues leave on a regular basis, and no less than 24 hours of paid sick time by the 120th calendar day of the year.

Use - An employee must be employed for at least 90 days before being able to use any accrued paid sick leave. Employers are permitted to cap use of paid sick time at 24 hours (or three days) in each year of employment. If foreseeable, employees must provide "reasonable advance notification."

Posting – Employers must display a poster re: the law in each workplace.

Record keeping - Employers must keep all records documenting hours worked and paid sick days accrued and used by an employee for three years.

Oregon

On June 23, 2015, Oregon’s governor signed into law a state-wide paid sick leave act.

Notable points concerning the legislation:

Threshold – Requires most employers with 10 or more employees to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 10 employees will be required to provide up to 40 hours per year of unpaid sick leave. (Note that Portland has a similar law affecting employers with six or more employees). 

Employees – The law applies to virtually all people working in the state: full-time and part-time hourly, salaried, commissioned and piece-rate employees. Independent contractors, employees who receive paid sick leave under federal law and, participants in certain work-training or work-study programs. 

Accrual – Paid sick leave will begin to accrue for current employees on January 1, 2016, at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours of work. Employees hired after that date will begin accruing sick leave upon hire (although they cannot begin using it until the 91st calendar day after they begin work). Employers will not be required to pay out accrued sick leave balances when an employee resigns or is terminated, but any accrued sick leave must be restored to an employee who is rehired within 180 days.

Use – Employees are permitted to use accrued sick leave in one-hour increments, which for the most part tracks allowable incremental time uses under the Oregon Family Leave Act. Employers may require employees to make reasonable attempts to schedule sick leave when it is least disruptive to the employer and to provide reasonable notice of their intention to take sick leave when that leave is foreseeable. The employer may require documentation only for periods of sick leave of three days or more.

Connecticut

On June 6, 2014, the governor signed into law an amendment to Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Act. 

Notable points concerning the amendment as related to the initial legislation:

Covered employees - Under the initial act, employers with 50 or more employees had to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to service workers, who were defined as hourly, nonexempt employee engaged in certain specifically defined occupations. Under the initial statute, the following occupations that might be applicable to many companies’ Connecticut’s operations include security guards, janitors and cleaners, building cleaning workers, receptionists and information clerks, couriers and messengers, secretaries and administrative assistants, computer operators, data entry and information processing workers, insurance claims and policy processing clerks, mail clerks and mail machine operators (except Postal Service), office clerks, office machine operators (except computer), statistical Assistants, and miscellaneous office and administrative support workers.

Threshold of employees – Under the existing statute, the calculation of whether an employer met the 50 employee threshold was based on the number of employees on each quarter of the previous year. The amendment requires that an employer calculate the threshold based solely on the number of employees on its payroll for the week containing October 1. The law makes it unlawful for an employer to fire, dismiss or transfer an employee in order to avoid meeting that threshold.

Accrual – Under the existing statute, covered employees accrued one hour of sick leave per 40 hours of work, and up to 40 hours in a calendar year. The amendment allows the employer use is fiscal year in making the calculation.

Massachusetts

On November 4, 2014, voters approved a ballot question that requires all private sector employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year. Under the new law, which went into effect on July 1, 2015, employers with 11 or more employees must provide employees with paid sick leave (employers under the threshold must provide unpaid sick leave).

Notable points concerning the legislation are:

Threshold – To determine if it has reached the employee threshold, the employer must count all full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. 

Accrual – One hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. For accrual purposes, exempt employees are assumed to work 40 hours per week unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours. 

Use - New employees are not entitled to use the sick leave until 90 calendar days after they commence employment. Employees are only entitled to use 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year. Employers must grant sick time in hourly increments or the smallest increment that the employer’s payroll system uses to account for absences or use of other time. An employer only may require that an employee provide a doctor’s note, or some other form of certification from a health care provider, if the employee is absent for more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours. Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year.

Postings - Employers are required to post a multi-lingual notice to be prepared by the Attorney General. Employers must also provide employees with copies of the notice.

Records - Employers must maintain records related to sick leave for at least two years after each pay period.

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