California Paid Sick Leave Laws

Am I eligible for paid sick leave?

Under California state law, most exempt and non-exempt employees with 30 or more days of employment in a calendar year have eligibility for paid sick leave (PSL). (Labor Code § 246(a))

PSL is available for full-time workers, part-time workers, and temporary employees. There are some restrictions for certain employees who do not fall under the California laws for regular employees, including:

  • Federal employees and some state and city employees,
  • Workers with a collective bargaining agreement,
  • In-home supportive service providers, and
  • Some employees of air carriers.

How may sick days can I get paid for

An employer may limit the amount of paid sick leave an employee can use in one year to 24 hours or three days. Accrued paid sick leave may be carried over to the next year, but it may be capped at 48 hours or six days. (Labor Code § 246(b)(3)).

Employer will have to provide the more generous provision or benefit to an employee, where they differ between local and state laws. In some areas, such as the City and County of San Francisco for example, there are separate ordinances requiring paid sick leave. If the provisions of the local ordinance require more accrued sick leave, that provision would take precedence as it is more generous. For employers in the City and County of San Francisco there may be a higher rate of accrued sick leave.

How much do I get paid while on sick leave?

You are entitled to your current rate of pay. California Labor Code, section 246(l) provides:

(1) Paid sick time for nonexempt employees shall be calculated in the same manner as the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses paid sick time, whether or not the employee actually works overtime in that workweek.

(2) Paid sick time for nonexempt employees shall be calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.

(3) Paid sick time for exempt employees shall be calculated in the same manner as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave time.

When can I use sick time?

An employee may use paid sick leave for:

  • Themselves or a family member for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventive care
  • Specified purposes for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking (relief for the employee or his/her child, including restraining order; medical attention; psychological counseling; services from a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center; safety planning against future domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking)

See Labor Code sections 246.5, 230 and 230.1.

Who is considered a “family member”?

Employees in California may take paid sick leave to care not just for themselves but also for a:

  • Child, stepchild, foster child, or adopted child;
  • Spouse or registered domestic partner;
  • Parent;
  • Sibling;
  • Grandchild; or
  • See Labor Code section 245.5(c).

Can my employer provide more time

California law establishes minimum requirements for paid sick leave. Employers may offer more time and usage than provided in Paid Sick Leave provisions but not less. PTO plans will be found compliant if they provide both the same hours for usage AND for the same purposes as outlined in Paid Sick Leave provision.

How am I protected for using sick leave?

In general, an employer may not discipline an employee for using accrued paid sick leave for the purposes provided by law.  However, an employer is not required to allow an employee to use accrued paid sick days for reasons other than those listed in the statute ((Labor Code § 246.5(a))

How much COVID-19 related leave can I take:

Covered employees in the public or private sectors who work for employers with 26 or more employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of 2022 COVID-19 related paid sick leave from January 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022, immediately upon an oral or written request to their employer, with up to 40 of those hours available only when an employee or family member tests positive for COVID-19.

Click below for more specific information related to COVID-19 leave: