My sister was to attend a conference in China in the first week of June, and the family was busy with wish lists of things they would like her to get them. But, the day before she and her colleagues were to fly, they were told that the conference was indefinitely postponed. All their preparations came to naught, thanks to an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in China brought there by an infected South Korean who flew into China in spite of having a family member who was down with MERS. Such is the power of infection and disease that it makes scant sense to force sick employees to report to work, infecting many others. This is especially true of workers in places like restaurants, schools, hospitals, retail showrooms and other crowded, public places. California has now joined the growing list of States that have taken steps to ensure that, when ill, workers can stay home and recuperate.
The new California Paid Sick Leave Law (AB 304) went into effect July 1st. Employers in California have to provide sick leave to employees who, on or after July 1, 2015, work in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of employment. Employees, including part-time and temporary employees, will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.
The only exceptions are employees already covered by qualifying collective bargaining agreements, in-home supportive services providers, and certain employees of air carriers.
Specifics of the new California law:
The new law makes it possible for employees to report sickness and take time off to rest, recuperate or get preventive care, like scheduled doctor and dentist appointments, for themselves or their family members. Workers are not required to get a note from a doctor. Unused sick leave can be carried over to the subsequent year.
Employers have expressed concerns regarding the financial impact of paying for the absent employee as well as the person who is substituting for the absent worker, amounting to an additional 3 days’ pay per employee per year. However, proponents point out that having one’s workforce and customers come down with influenza or worse is not an attractive option either! How much productivity can one expect from a sick employee?
When the law is applied to contingent workers placed by staffing agencies serving as the employer of record, we can expect to see customers specifying that they will not pay for workers who are absent due to illness. Payment will be viewed as the responsibility of the staffing agency, and should not be passed on to the customer. We’ll monitor how this law – and similar laws around the country – unfolds and report back at a future time.
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