How Many Days of Paid Sick Leave Am I Entitled To in California?

When an individual or their family member gets sick or has other health and wellness matters to attend to (pregnancy or new birth), the stress and obligations of that can be exacerbated by worry about work. A main concern of workers is whether they will lose wages from not being at work. California law does provide protections to employees who need to attend to health and family matters, and when they fail to honor these protections, workers often have the right to take legal action for both money damages and injunctive relief, which can include being rehired and/or restored to a previous position. In particular, California mandates paid sick leave for employees.

Paid Sick Leave in California

In 2015, California became only the second state in the nation to mandate that both part-time and full-time employees be provided with paid sick leave. Under that law, employers must give employees at least three days of paid leave of absence in a year.

Workers accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and are eligible to begin using the paid sick leave after 90 days of employment. This means that, if an employee has worked 18 weeks at 40 hours a week (720 total hours), they will have accrued 24 hours of paid sick leave (24 being 1/30th of 720), and are eligible to take their full 24 hours (in other words, three days of 8-hour days) of sick days.

When Employers Fail to Honor Sick Leave Policies

Under California’s paid sick leave law, employers cannot punish employees for using their paid sick leave time (e.g. through termination, demotion, reassignment, etc.), whether to attend to their own health or to take care of a family member such as a parent, spouse, or child. Employers are also required to pay employees at the same rate for the sick days as they would normally pay the employee.

Many employers offer more than the minimum three days of paid sick leave required by California law, and those employers are required to honor those commitments to its employees. If your employer is failing to abide by either California’s paid leave of absence requirement and/or its own internal policies, contact an employment law attorney to learn about your options for recovery.