On October 4, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) No. 616 into law. SB 616 amends California's paid sick leave law to expand mandatory paid sick leave from three days or twenty-four hours to five days or forty hours. The increased paid sick leave requirements take effect on January 1, 2024.

Quick Hits

  • Beginning January 1, 2024, California employers must provide employees with five days or forty hours of paid sick leave.
  • Employers still may limit annual use and accrual, although at a higher level than before.
  • SB 616 also extends nonretaliation and procedural protections to collective bargaining agreement employees.

SB 616

SB 616 amends the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 by making the following changes:

  • Paid sick leave entitlement. SB 616 increases an employee's entitlement to paid sick leave from three days to five days or from twenty-four hours to forty hours.
  • Accrual or frontload. Employers may continue providing paid sick leave at one hour for every thirty hours worked, so long as an employee has accrued forty hours or five days by the end of the 200th calendar day of employment. Employers also may frontload the entire paid sick leave amount, just as they may do now.
  • Increased annual usage cap. Employers still may limit an employee's annual use of paid sick leave. SB 616, though, increases the annual usage cap from twenty-four to forty hours.
  • Increased accrual cap. Under SB 616, employers may cap paid sick leave accrual at eighty hours or ten days. Currently, employers may limit paid sick leave accrual to forty-eight hours or six days.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Employees

The amended paid sick leave law continues to exempt from the accrual requirement collective bargaining agreements that meet certain criteria. However, SB 616 does extend some provisions of California's paid sick leave law to collective bargaining agreement employees. Amended California Labor Code Section 246.5 requires that employers allow collective bargaining agreement employees who otherwise are exempt from California's paid sick leave law to use paid sick leave for the same reasons as covered employees—for the "[d]iagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, an employee or an employee's family member" and, for certain purposes, for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers also may not require a collective bargaining employee who uses sick days to search for or find a replacement worker for those days. Employers may not retaliate against collective bargaining agreement employees who use paid sick leave, and employees are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer takes adverse action within thirty days of certain protected activity.

Preparing for SB 616

Employers may wish to prepare for SB 616's effective date by reviewing and revising their paid sick leave policies to comport with the new paid sick leave requirements and accrual and usage caps. Both union and nonunion employers also may wish to educate human resources and managers about employers' new California paid sick leave obligations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.