On October 4, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 616, amending California’s statewide paid sick and safe leave law.  Effective January 1, 2024, this amendment increases paid leave hours for employees and accrual amounts and provides some protections for employees covered by certain collective bargaining agreements. 

Currently, employees must be given a minimum of 24 hours or three days of sick leave, whichever is greater, but SB 616 increases that minimum to the greater of 40 hours or five days each year or each 12-month period.  Additionally, if employers are using the accrual method, employees will be able to accrue and carry over more paid leave hours, with the cap increasing from 48 hours or six days to the greater of 80 hours or 10 days.  The new law also preempts any local sick leave laws to the extent they provide less generous leave. 

Certain employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement will receive some benefits from the new law.  Non-construction unionized employees will be entitled to the paid sick leave benefits and may use CBA-provided leave intended for sick leave use for the reasons set forth in Labor Code section 246.5.  These employees also are not required to find a replacement in the event of a leave.  Attendance and disciplinary policies should be updated to account for these protections for unionized employees.

Employers in California should take note of these changes as they may impact compliance with the evolving paid sick leave laws.  Employers should ensure their wage statements accurately reflect paid sick leave reporting requirements and update policies to cover this change.  Employers should note that, in addition to paid sick leave, California employees also are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave, up to five days of bereavement leave, and up to four months of unpaid pregnancy disability leave.