Clarifying California’s Sick Leave Law: Employers Must Have Policy in Place to Cap Sick Leave at 3 Days

In the midst of much misinformation and confusion, yesterday, July 1, marked the day California employers were required to begin providing paid sick leave benefits to their eligible employees.


The California Chamber of Commerce is providing resources to help employers understand and comply with the new sick leave mandate. A video and Fact Sheet are available at

“There is a lot of misinformation about what this law requires,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg. “This is not a straightforward requirement of three days of leave per employee as many have suggested. Rather, employers must create a policy addressing the amount of leave they are providing or else they will be subject to the statutory mandated accrual rate of one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours an employee works. This means that if employers are not clear about capping their leave at three days – full-time employees will be entitled to 69 hours of paid leave per year and they will be allowed to carry that over to the next year, and so on. This is nearly nine days – not three – if the employee works a 40-hour workweek. It is critical that employers understand that they must have a policy in place – preferably in writing – that clearly communicates to employees about the amount of leave they are providing.” In addition, it is important to note that the law applies to private and public employers regardless of size; there is no exception for small employers. Any employee who has worked in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of his/her employment will be entitled to paid sick days.

The law also includes several notice, posting and recordkeeping mandates.

  • Pay-Stub Notice: An employer must provide an employee with a written notice setting forth the amount of paid sick leave available to the employee each pay period. An employer can provide this notice to the employee either on the already-required itemized wage statement or in a separate written document provided to the employee with the payment of wages.
  • Wage Theft Notice: The Wage and Employment Notice (Labor Code section 2810.5), which employers have been required to provide to nonexempt employees since 2012, has been updated by the Labor Commissioner to contain information about an employee’s right to accrue and use paid sick leave and about employee protections under the law. The updated Wage Theft Notice is available on the Labor Commissioner’s website and also on HRCalifornia.
  • Poster: There is a new required poster advising employees of their sick leave rights. The Labor Commissioner has released the poster, and it’s available on the Labor Commissioner’s website. Purchasers of CalChamber’s 2015 California and Federal Employment Notices Poster will receive this posting.
  • Recordkeeping Requirements: Employers will need to keep records for at least three years which document the number of hours that each employee worked and paid sick days accrued and used by each employee.

California’s new sick leave law also carries consequences for noncompliance. If employers do not comply with the new law, they can face Labor Commissioner enforcement measures that include awarding back pay, damages and penalties up to $4,000.

The law also specifies that employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who take sick leave.

For more information visit PaidSickLeave.

The California Chamber of Commerce is the largest, broad-based business advocate to government in California, working at the state and federal levels to influence government actions affecting all California business. As a not-for-profit, we leverage our front-line knowledge of laws and regulations to provide affordable and easy-to-use compliance products and services.