January 17, 2023
While there is widespread support for paid sick leave, there is currently no federal law in the US about it. Fortunately, some state and local jurisdictions have taken action. California’s paid sick leave law–the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (or HWHFA) has been on the books since 2015.
Who is eligible?
According to the HWHFA, you are entitled to earn (or “accumulate”) sick leave if you work for the same employer for at least 30 calendar days within a year in California. This law covers most full-time, part-time, per diem, and temporary employees.
When can I use it?
You can use your accrued sick leave to receive payment while you are away from work for preventive care or the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing medical condition for yourself or a member of your family.
“Preventive care” includes, but is not limited to, annual physical exams and flu shots. Family members include parents, children, spouse, registered partner, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
If your sick leave is planned (like a doctor’s appointment), you must notify your employer in advance. But if you need to be absent due to illness for an unforeseeable reason (such as an emergency or sudden illness), you only need to notify them as soon as possible.
How many sick days should I get?
The amount of sick leave available to you depends on your employer’s paid sick leave plan.
If you are confused or if you have questions about your employer’s sick leave policy, you should speak to your employer’s human resources department.
According to the HWHFA, most employees are entitled to at least 24 hours or three days (whichever is longer) of paid sick leave per year. Some local jurisdictions, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, have sick leave laws that require even higher benefits.
What should I do if my employer violates my right to paid sick leave?
The California Office of the Labor Commissioner enforces laws that protect workers from labor rights violations, including the HWHFA.
Under the HWHFA, your employer cannot deny you the right to use your paid sick leave. It also cannot retaliate against you.