Sick leave on horizon
October 13, 2014 | Source: Pacific Coast Business Times

Starting next summer, California businesses of all sizes will have to give all employees ­— part-time, full-time or even temporary, exempt or non-exempt — at least three days a year of paid sick time. Connecticut has a similar law, but it only affects firms with 50 or more employees.

“This is the first state in the country to adopt a paid sick leave law that is applicable to every size business,” said Kathy Eppright of Andre, Morris & Buttery in San Luis Obispo.

The basics of the law are easy enough: Give workers three days’ sick time immediately at the start of a year, or let them accrue at least six days, with three per year carried over.

But there are a bevvy of questions still unanswered. If time off is guaranteed under the law, can employees be disciplined for abusing sick leave policies, such as when one gets a headache every Friday at 4:30 p.m.? Can employers require a doctor’s note?

There are also uncertainties for seasonal employers. Technically, a person must receive paid sick leave if they work more than 30 days, but they aren’t entitled to use that time until they’ve worked 90 days.

“What does that mean for businesses like wineries that hire in that 30- to 90-day window? It’s a benefit that has to be offered but can’t be used and doesn’t have to be paid out upon termination,” Eppright said.

The bottom line is that businesses of every size will be subject to tracking the benefit — something as simple as forgetting to print sick time on pay stubs for seasonal workers could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. While other regulations require unpaid time off, this is California’s first foray into mandatory paid time off, said Karen Gabler of Camarillo-based LightGabler.

“The very basic assumption that the state can tell you that you must give time off, you must give pay or you must give this or that to your employees – it’s effectively expanding the minimum wage to other areas of the employer-employee relationship,” she said.