The Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 governs California’s sick leave law.
The Department of Industrial Relations outlines your rights as an employee:
- You may request paid sick days in writing or verbally.
- You cannot be required to find a replacement as a condition for using paid sick leave.
- You can utilize paid sick leave for yourself or for a family member for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventative case or for specified purposes.
- You can utilize sick leave if you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Understanding the Accrual Method
Typically, an employee is allowed to begin using any sick leave beginning on the 90th day of employment. However, paid sick leave allows your employer to designate sick leave in one of two ways:
- Your employer may allow the accrual of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked up to a total of 48 hours or six days of paid sick leave every four weeks.
- Or, the employer may provide you with 24 hours of paid sick leave or paid time off by the 120th day of employment in each 12-month period you are employed.
How to Use Sick Leave
Labor Code § 246 (k) recognizes that “An employee may determine how much paid sick leave he or she needs to use, provided that an employer may set a reasonable minimum increment, not to exceed two hours, for the use of paid sick leave.” Essentially, if you want to use a few hours of your sick leave for a simple doctor’s appointment, then you are entitled to do so. Your employer is violating your rights if you are required to take paid sick leave in increments greater than two hours.
Used up all of your sick leave?
If you used up all of your sick leave and you need to take time off due to your illness or a family member’s then you could risk being written up. Notably, you will not be paid if your accrued sick days have been used. However, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide for the protection you need for additional time off, like maternity/paternity leave or if you need to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
To summarize, your employer cannot discipline or terminate you for using paid sick leave unless you have used all of your sick leave and have an unexcused absence. If your employer has denied you your right to paid sick leave, written you up, or terminated you then contact our office, as you might have a claim for wrongful termination.