California Sick Leave Law: What You Need To Know

Updated: Apr 21

Sick Leave Laws: Labor Law, Employee Rights, And Retaliation In California

Employees aren't machines. They're going to get tired and sick at some point, but they shouldn't be treated as dispensable and replaceable cogs. Thus, California sick leave laws exist to ensure an employee's job and pay are protected in the unfortunate times they get sick.

That said, just because these laws exist doesn't mean shady employers won't try to undermine them. Worse, if you didn't know you had rights, employers might get away with violating them.

So, let's talk about California sick leave laws, how you might qualify, and when you should call California Employment and Labor Lawyers near you.

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What's In California Sick Leave Laws?

All California employees can earn and use up to 24 hours or three days of paid sick and safe leave per calendar year.

Employers have the following options:

  • Employees can accumulate paid sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.

  • At the start of each calendar year, employers can provide 24 hours or three days of paid sick and safe leave.

California has different paid sick and safe leave legislation and policies in several towns and counties. Therefore, if you must follow the provisions of more than one paid sick leave law, you must follow the provisions of each law that benefit the employee the greatest.

California Employment and Labor Lawyers for the localities where employees work should review paid sick leave policies to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.

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Who Is Eligible For California Paid Sick Laws?

All temporary, part-time, and full-time employees who work for the same employer in California for 30 days or more within a year after starting work are eligible for paid sick and safe leave.

Employees in California may use paid sick leave for any of the reasons listed below:

  • The employee's or the employee's family member's diagnosis, care, treatment of an existing health issue, or preventative care.

  • A spouse, registered domestic partner, child (regardless of age), parent (including a stepparent or parent-in-law), grandparent, grandchild, or sibling is considered a "family member" for the purposes of a paid sick leave policy.

  • Victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking may take paid sick or safe leave to seek help or medical attention, access services or counseling, or engage in safety planning.

However, eligibility does not apply to all categories of employees. There are a few exceptions:

  • Employees who are protected by collective bargaining agreements or union contracts

  • Independent contractors or freelancers (but temporary employees from staffing agencies are covered)

  • In-home supportive services employees

  • Employees on the flight deck or in the cabin of an airline with comparable benefits

  • Employees in the public sector who receive a government pension and return to part-time work are eligible

If you're not sure whether you qualify for paid sick leaves, whether you're rights have been violated, or whether you have viable grounds to report your employer, consult with a prescreened California Employment Attorney. A lawyer will go over your case details, find potential evidence, and build a solid strategy to win an employment claim.