United States: New Paid Sick Leave Laws Compel Employers To React — And Prepare (Part I)

Last Updated: September 22 2016
Article by Wendy A. Sugg

A number of states and local municipalities have recently enacted paid sick leave legislation mandating paid time away from work for employees. Unfortunately for employers, many of these laws contain provisions that conflict with already-enacted paid sick legislation and require an adjustment of current policies, leading to confusion about requirements and entitlements.

Employers with operations in the following areas should revisit their policies and make adjustments as needed to remain current or to plan for upcoming changes:

  • Los Angeles, California (effective July 1, 2016): Employees working in the City of Los Angeles must be provided with the ability to accrue and use up to 48 hours of sick leave, twice the amount provided by state law. Los Angeles' law does not have a lower cap for small employers. Employers may provide the entire 48 hours of sick leave in a lump sum, or the employer may use an accrual method by which employees will accrue no less than one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked (including overtime hours) within the City of Los Angeles. For employers using the accrual method, employers may implement an accrual cap at 72 hours, although no accrual cap is required. Any unused sick time is then carried over to subsequent years.
  • San Diego, California (effective July 11, 2016): Employers must provide each employee with no less than one (1) hour of earned sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the city; employers may cap the total accrual of sick leave at eighty (80) hours. Any unused accrued earned sick leave must be carried forward to the following benefit year. Instead of accrual, employers may grant an employee 40 hours of paid sick leave each year, and may limit use of earned sick leave to forty (40) hours in a benefit year.
  • Montgomery County, Maryland (effective October 1, 2016): Beginning Oct. 1, 2016, employers in Montgomery County will have to provide most employees in the county with up to 56 hours of paid sick and safe leave. Employers with five or more employees must provide at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, not to exceed 56 hours of earned paid leave in a calendar year. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide leave at the same rate (one hour for every 30 hours worked) and up to 56 hours of leave per year. However, for small employers, only 32 hours must be paid and 24 hours can be provided on an unpaid basis. Employees exempt from overtime requirements earn leave pursuant to their normal workweek, up to 40 hours each week. Employers may either award leave as it accrues throughout the calendar year or grant the full amount of leave to be earned over the course of the calendar year at the beginning of the year.

These paid sick leave laws are in place now (or in the case of Montgomery County, Maryland, will be in place very soon!), so if you have employees working in these areas and have any doubt about your compliance, now is the time to take a careful look and call legal counsel as needed.  In Part II, we'll look at some additional leave laws that will take effect next year.  You will have a little more time to plan for those laws, but better to prepare now than wait until the last minute for those changes to take effect!

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.

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