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Is Paid Sick Time the New Norm?

Today’s guest blogger, Morgan Gregory, Public Sector Field Marketing Manager at Kronos, touches on a topic that, although impacts states in a variety of  different ways, is becoming a trend that seems to be heading towards a “new norm”. 

There was a stomach bug going around the office recently which got me thinking about the last time I was sick.

It was Thanksgiving week, and I was an hourly worker in Georgia. The week was already going to be a short one due to the holiday, so I wanted to try and fit as many hours in as possible to ease the hit on my paycheck. But then I got the flu, and my entire week was completely shot, because Georgia, like most parts of the US, does not require employers to provide earned paid sick time.

Four states and 19 localities, however, now have required paid sick leave for all workers, and, while the names vary from Healthy Workplace/Healthy Family Act in California to simply Paid Sick Time Law in Massachusetts, most of these jurisdictions are following a very similar model to how employees earn their time and how employers must track that time.

Additionally, there are active campaigns happening in 22 other states, making the employer implications of this law foreseeably relevant to over half of our country. Visit paidsickdays.org for more information.

Employers in highly unionized states like California are already generally covered by respective collective bargaining agreements, however, there are certain aspects of reporting leave that are new and essential to understand in order to be fully compliant.

Let’s continue to use California as an example.

CA Employees, including part-time and temporary employees, who work for 30 or more days within a year will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. This accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later, and the employee may begin using his or her earned paid time off after the 90th day of employment.

The law states that California employers may limit the amount of paid sick leave an employee can use in one year to 24 hours, or three days, and, instead of tracking earned time off, employers may offer this minimum amount in full up front.

In order to not risk facing the consequences of noncompliance, it is essential that every employer has proof of its commitment to adhere to the Healthy Workplace/Healthy Family Act of 2014.

The law requires records showing both earned and used paid time off be kept for three years.

Paid Sick Days Poster  must be displayed where employees can read it easily; we recommend in a break room where any free food goes. In addition, new hires must receive written notice. The notice for your particular state can be found in the site of your Attorney General.

I can imagine this will put a strain on human resource and payroll departments who will likely pick up this extra task. We are talking about a sub-set of employees who, until recently, were not eligible for this benefit. The additional workload, however, really depends on how sophisticated existing leave tracking systems are.

For more a more detailed explanation of the California Healthy Workplace/Healthy Family Act of 2014 including examples and a Q&A with Alberto Torrico, labor attorney and former Majority Leader of the California State Assembly, watch an instant replay of Understanding the CA Paid Sick Leave Law Webinar.

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