various prescriptions for paid sick leave continue to
proliferate and evolve, with recent changes to ordinances in San
Diego and San Francisco and the addition of yet another local law,
this time in Berkeley.
When San Diego voters initially approved the city's paid
sick leave law, it contained no provision for a cap on accrual,
spawning an epidemic of concern among employers about how to deal
with the costs and burden of employees racking up unlimited amounts
of paid sick time. The city has tried to remedy this and other
concerns with its Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Implementing
Ordinance, enacted on Aug. 3, 2016. Now, San Diego employers
are permitted to cap total accrual of paid sick leave at 80 hours.
Other changes include the following:
San Francisco was a pioneer when voters approved Proposition F
in 2006, launching the city's paid sick leave law. But the
city's ordinance varies from the statewide Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of
2014 and in some ways is less generous. San Francisco hopes
that an amendment to its ordinance, effective Jan. 1,
2017, will be the cure.
The amendment brings San Francisco's ordinance in line with
the state's law without changing city provisions, which are
more generous than the state law. For example, the amendment
provides that beginning Jan. 1, 2017, paid sick leave will begin to
accrue on commencement of employment (instead of 90 days after
commencement of employment).
Among the changes, the ordinance now expressly permits
front-loading of paid sick leave. Front-loaded paid sick leave is
treated as an advance on paid sick leave to be accrued. Unlike the
state law, however, the ordinance does not provide that no accrual
or carryover is required if an employer uses the front-loading
The Berkeley City Council passed a paid sick leave ordinance on Aug. 31, 2016,
along with an amendment of its minimum wage ordinance. Employees
begin accruing paid sick leave under the ordinance on Oct. 1, 2017.
The ordinance applies to employees who, in a calendar week, work at
least two hours within the city's geographic boundaries.
Employers must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30
hours worked, but employers are not required to provide paid sick
leave in less than one-hour increments for a fraction of an hour
worked. An employer that provides an amount of paid leave,
including paid time off, vacation or personal days that is
available for the same purposes as paid sick leave and meets the
accrual requirements is not required to provide additional paid
Paid sick leave under the ordinance begins to accrue at the
commencement of employment or on Oct. 1, 2017, whichever is later.
Small businesses (those with fewer than 25 employees in a given
week) may cap accrual of paid sick leave at 48 hours, but for other
employers, the maximum accrual cap is 72 hours. Small businesses
may limit an employee's use of paid sick leave to 48 hours per
calendar year, but other employers may not place such limits on use
of accrued paid sick leave.
An employee may begin using accrued sick leave after the 90th
calendar day of employment. In addition to uses permitted under the
state's paid sick leave law, the Berkeley ordinance allows
employees to use paid sick leave for a designated person if the
employee has no spouse or registered domestic partner.
The paid sick leave requirements may be waived in a collective
bargaining agreement if the waiver is explicitly set forth in clear
and unambiguous terms.
The minimum wage in Berkeley increases to $12.53 on Oct. 1,
2016, to $13.75 on Oct. 1, 2017, and to $15 on Oct. 1, 2018.
Starting July 1, 2019, and on July 1 each year after, the
city's minimum wage will increase by an amount corresponding to
the prior year's increase in the cost of living.
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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