Concerns about the loss of wages, among other factors, may keep some workers from taking time off when they fall ill or need medical treatment or care. However, the state requires employers to provide paid sick leave for eligible employees.
Understanding their right to paid sick leave may help workers protect themselves and ensure they receive the benefits they deserve.
Accruing paid sick leave
According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, employers must provide paid sick leave to employees who work 30 days or more in a year. Beginning from their first day of employment, workers must receive one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work. Employers must pay employees their regular wage rates for accrued sick leave.
Using accrued sick leave
Beginning on their 90th day of employment, workers may start using their accrued sick time. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, eligible employees may use paid sick time for themselves or their family members. For example, a worker with accrued time may use their leave to care for a sick child, spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent or grandchild. Workers may use sick leave for the treatment or care of an existing condition, as well as to receive preventative or diagnostic care or treatment.
Providing notification to employers
Employees who intend to use paid sick leave should inform their employers as soon as practical. When using their sick leave for planned treatment or care, as opposed to for an unforeseen medical emergency or illness, employees should give their employers advance notice.
In addition to providing for paid sick leave, state law also prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against workers who use or request to use this time off. Workers who feel their employers have violated their rights may benefit from consulting with legal representatives to understand their options, which may include filing a formal complaint with the labor commission or taking legal action.