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City of Oakland Joins Two Other California Cities in Mandating Paid Sick Leave

Date   Nov 24, 2014
On November 4, 2014, voters in the City of Oakland passed a measure mandating paid sick leave for eligible employees.

Executive Summary: On November 4, 2014, voters in the City of Oakland passed a measure mandating paid sick leave for eligible employees. The city has become the third city in California (after San Francisco and San Diego) to require paid sick leave for employees, and follows on the heels of California's own recently passed paid sick leave law, which requires paid sick leave for the entire state.

Under the new measure, which goes into effect March 2, 2015, employers are required to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave rather than the minimum 24 hours provided by state law. The new ordinance also allows employees to carry over more unused paid sick leave than permitted under state law. Further, unlike the state's law, Oakland's measure permits employees to designate certain non-family members for whom they can use their paid sick leave. Similar to state law, the new ordinance does not require an employer to pay an employee for unused leave at the time of the employee's separation from employment.

Employers should be aware that California's new paid sick leave law does not preempt or limit other applicable laws that provide greater sick leave benefits to employees. Thus, in Oakland, for example, an employee covered by both the state and city law would be entitled to 72 hours of paid sick leave as provided by the city ordinance instead of the minimum 24 hours as provided by state law. At the same time, the state's paid sick leave law may provide greater rights than provided by a local or city government's laws. For example, while the state's new law permits employers to grant paid sick leave at the beginning of each year, neither Oakland's recently passed measure, nor the laws affecting employees in San Francisco, allow for this method. Additionally, state law prohibits employers, regardless of size, from setting accrual caps that are lower than 48 hours, calling into question both San Francisco's and Oakland's ordinances on this topic.

A comparison table showing some key differences in each jurisdiction's paid sick leave laws is found below (note that San Diego's paid sick leave ordinance has recently been placed on referendum, to be decided by the city's voters in June 2016):

 

California

San Francisco

San Diego

Oakland

Effective Date

7/1/15

2/5/07

 N/A

3/2/15

Eligibility

Any employee working at least 30 days in California in their first year of employment.

Employees who work at least 56 hours in one calendar year within the geographical boundaries of the City of San Francisco.

Employees who work at least two hours within the geographical boundaries of the City of San Diego in one or more calendar weeks of the year.

Employees who work at least two hours within the geographical boundaries of the City of Oakland and are covered by California's minimum wage law.

Allows Waiver and/or Modification through Collective Bargaining

Yes, upon meeting certain conditions.

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Accrual Method

One hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked or 24 hours of paid sick leave provided at beginning of year.

One hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

One hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

One hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Accrual Caps

48 hours.

40 hours for small employers (may be preempted by California law); 72 hours for large employers.

No.

40 hours for small employers (may be preempted by California law); 72 hours for large employers.

Usage Caps

24 hours/year

No.

40 hours/year

No.

Medical Certification

No provisions.

Cannot require unless leave is in excess of three consecutive work days or in instances involving a pattern or clear instance of abuse.

Cannot require unless leave is in excess of three consecutive work days.

Can require; however, cannot require employee to incur certain expenses associated with it.

Allows Employee to Designate Member for Care

No.

Yes, if employee has no spouse or registered domestic partner.

No.

Yes, if employee has no spouse or registered domestic partner.


Employers are strongly urged to have their sick time and leave policies reviewed to ensure compliance with both state and local laws.

If you have any questions regarding this Alert or other labor or employment issues affecting California employers, please contact the authors, Allison Vasquez Saunders, asaunders@fordharrison.com, who is a partner in our Los Angeles office, or David Cheng, dcheng@fordharrison.com, who is senior associate in our Los Angeles office. You may also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.