Paid time off when you’re sick is a great benefit for many California employees. However, not all employers in California offer sick leave to employees. In many cases, if they do allow employees to take time off for illness, the time off is unpaid.
Some employers are confused about whether they are legally required to give employees sick leave. In California, by law, all employers with less than 50 employees do not have to give workers any sick leave. If a business has 50 employees or more, California law, as well as federal law, requires that workers be allowed to have sick leave (unpaid), which includes leave because of illness or to care for an ill close family member. In San Francisco, however, employers do have to provide not only sick leave, but also paid sick leave. Employees are required to give one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. For smaller businesses in San Francisco, an employee can only accrue 40 hours of sick time, and 72 hours can be accrued by the employees of larger San Francisco businesses.
Some of the laws that allow workers to take unpaid sick leave include the Family and Medical Leave Act (federal) and the California Family Rights Act. Both laws allow most employees to take up to twelve weeks of leave in a one-year period. It does not, however, have to be paid leave. In addition, California employees of businesses that have five or more employees have the right to unpaid leave for pregnancy, which comes from the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
However, many employers choose voluntarily to provide paid sick time, even if they aren’t legally required to do so. If an employer does provide paid sick time, legally an employee has the right to use the time as long as he or she follows the company’s rules about the sick leave. For example, if an employer requires a doctor’s note for absences of two days or more, an employee legally must provide that note in order to be entitled to paid time off.
Sick time is treated differently than vacation time. Usually, vacation time accrues and is payable when an employee leaves the company. However, many companies have a policy that any sick leave is either used or is lost when an employee leaves the company. It’s very important that employers stay consistent about their sick leave policy.
Often, employers don’t follow the laws or their own internal policies on sick leave. An employer may choose to refuse to allow an employee to use sick time he or she has accrued, even if the employee followed the rules. An employer may refuse to pay for sick time. In some cases, employers don’t let employers have sick time which they are allowed under state or federal law.
Employees have legal rights regarding sick time to which they are entitled. Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law believes that employees who are denied sick pay or medical leave to which they are entitled under federal and state law, should fight for those rights.
Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law is an employment law attorney who works with clients in the San Francisco-Oakland area. Many of the clients she represents have issues with not being paid all the wages to which they are entitled, including money for sick leave. If you have a dispute with your employer over sick time or other unpaid wages, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000.