California: Upcoming Leave Updates
Recently, Governor Gavin Newson has signed two Senate Bills into law. The bills shall become effective on January 1, 2024.
- SB 616 which shall expand the paid sick leave entitlements for California employees (an amendment to Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act).
- SB 848 which shall provide employees with reproductive loss leave following a reproductive loss event.
The details of the amendment are as follows –
Expansion of Paid Sick Leave
Duration of Paid Sick Leave
Currently, an employee is entitled to receive 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave every year. Eligible employees accrue paid sick days at the rate of 1 hour per every 30 hours worked, which begins when the employment commences.
Effective January 1, 2024, the duration of paid sick leave under the Act shall increase to 40 hours or 5 days.
Accrual and Carryover of Paid Sick Leave
Currently, an employee can accrue up to 48 hours or 6 days of paid sick leave, whichever is greater.
Effective January 1, 2024, the accrual limit shall be increased to 80 hours or 10 days of paid sick leave, whichever is greater.
Front Loading of Sick Leave
Currently, the law allows employers to frontload (accrue) a specific amount of paid leave each year. Employers that opt for an “accrual” paid sick leave policy may choose to either:
- provide employees with 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or
- adopt an “alternative accrual” method that meets certain minimum standards. For the “alternate accrual” method, current law mandates that employees accrue at least 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment, each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.
Effective January 1, 2024, the amendment shall modify the minimum accrual for the “alternate accrual” method, by requiring employees to accrue at least 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment, each calendar year or in each 12-month period, and at least 40 hours or 5 days of paid sick leave or paid time off by the 200th calendar day of employment, each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.
Reproductive Loss Leave
Currently, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by any employee to take up to 5 days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. There are no specific criteria on leave for any kind of reproductive loss provided to the employee in the case of a reproductive loss event.
Effective January 1, 2024, the bereavement leave criteria shall be expanded, and eligible employees shall be entitled to take 5 days of unpaid leave for reproductive loss. Even though the leave for reproductive loss is unpaid, an employee shall be provided with the option to utilize accrued annual vacation, personal leave, sick leave, or compensatory time off if such benefits are available.
A reproductive loss event is broadly defined as a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.
Employees shall be required to use this leave within 3 months from the date of occurrence of the reproductive loss event. The leave is not required to be taken consecutively.
If an employee experiences multiple reproductive loss events within a 12-month period, the employer is not obligated to offer more than 20 days of leave during that 12-month period.
Takeaway – Employers must inform their employees of the upcoming changes and proactively start reviewing their current policies, identifying areas that will require updates, in accordance with the upcoming amendment.