For the most part, AB 304 clarifies the existing sick leave law. Because of the wide ranging effects of imposing mandatory sick leave throughout the state, the author of the bill listened to stakeholders and decided to implement some clarifying changes.
AB 304 faced many challenges through the legislative process, with nearly all interested groups opposing the bill at one time or another. Most if not all opposition of the bill was removed as the language was negotiated throughout the session. On its last vote in the Senate, the bill passed 69-0, signifying that that measure had broad support.
The bill contains many clarifying changes, but I have highlighted several significant provisions here.
The bill clarifies that employers that had existing paid leave or paid time off plans are not required to provide additional sick leave as long as their policies met the statutory requirements of AB 1522.
For employers that do not track their employees hours, the bill allows employers to accrue or front-load their sick leave policies so that these non-hourly employees receive their three paid sick days by the 120th day of the year.
The bill provides flexibility to employers that pay their nonexempt employees at varying rates of pay. Existing law made sick leave pay calculations cumbersome. AB 304 provides some relief in this area by providing several choices for an employer to comply with the law.
The bottom line is that paid sick leave is now the law of the land in California. If your business does not provide paid sick leave that complies with AB 1522 / AB 304, you are putting you business at risk of lawsuits and civil penalties.
Make sure that your paid sick leave policy complies with the law. Ignorance of the law in this area will only lead to trouble down the road.
Call my office at (916) 333-2222 if you have any questions about your paid sick leave responsibilities in California.