California Amends its Existing Paid Sick Leave Law to Provide More Paid Sick Leave

Date   Oct 6, 2023

Executive SummaryOn October 4, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 616, which amends the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA) (California Labor Code Section 245.5) to provide nearly all employees working in California with two additional days or 16 additional hours of paid sick leave. This new law goes into effect on January 1, 2024. 

Currently, the Golden State’s paid sick leave law requires employers—however large or small—to provide most of their employees with at least three paid sick days, and to allow employees to hold a maximum limit of six days of unused paid sick leave. Starting in 2024, employers will be required to provide at least five paid sick days. Additionally, the law will allow employees to hold up to ten days of unused paid sick leave.

Under current mandates, the state permits an employee to use the leave not only for treating the employee's or employee's family member's illness or wellcare, but also if the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault/violence and/or stalking.

How is the Leave Provided?

In addition to mandating additional paid sick leave benefits to employees, the amendments modify how employers can provide paid sick leave. Generally, there are two methods of providing paid sick leave: an accrual method and a lump sum method. Under the accrual method, the employee must earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrual under this method is immediate, and employers cannot impose probationary periods on accrual. Any accrued but unused paid sick leave must be carried over to the following year; but an employer may cap the accrued leave at ten days.

Alternatively, employers can avoid the complicated requirements of the accrual method by using alternative accrual methods, so long as employees have no less than three days/24 hours of paid sick leave that is available to the employee to use by the 120th calendar day of employment, and, as a result of the law’s amendments, no less than five days/40 hours of paid sick leave by the 200th calendar day of employment. Employers may also provide paid sick leave under a lump sum method that provides a single provision of paid sick leave for a given 12-month period for immediate use; but, under SB 616’s amendments, that lump sum must be at least five days/40 hours. However, no accrual or carryover is required if the employer uses the lump sum method.

The Bottom Line

Because of the amendments to HWHFA, employers should review their sick time and leave policies to ensure compliance with the new law. Additionally, employers should be prepared to update their current payroll and recordkeeping and retention procedures and systems to comply with the new law. Employers also will need to provide training to managers and update existing policies regarding the new law's provisions.

If you have any questions regarding the new law or this Alert, please contact the authors, David Cheng,, and Chip Zuver,, both of whom are partners in our Los Angeles office. Of course, you can also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.