Paid Sick Leave for Californians

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 (Jannah Manansala)

With certain exceptions, California workers will in July see something on their payday they have not seen before: written notice from their employer of the amount of paid sick leave available or of paid time off leave available in lieu of sick leave.
This new development is part of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 which, for the first time ever, entitles California workers to be paid for time they take off to address their own health needs as well as the health needs of their child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild and sibling. This simple benefit was passed in recognition of the fact that nearly every Californian at one point or another will need time off work to care for themselves or family members and that providing paid sick days is both affordable for employers and good for business.  

In the employment law world in which I live, California is perceived as a pioneer in the area of workers' rights. This fact makes it difficult for me to process how it could take until now for us as a state to accept that paid sick leave should be a basic right. Connecticut was the first state in the nation to pass a statewide paid sick leave law in 2011, and yet it took California almost three years to follow suit.  I feel fortunate to only have to imagine having a job where I could never get paid when sick, and yet this has been the reality for too long for 40% of California's workforce, which includes about 6.5 million workers.  The law disproportionately affects workers in the food service and hotel industry, an estimated 78% of which previously earned no paid sick leave, as well as workers in childcare, retail, and nursing.

When Californians receive written notice of their paid sick day or paid time off availability on payday this July, they should rest assured that the notice is part of a long-overdue step in the right direction for us as Californians. The notice is part of a law that's good for workers, good for business and good for California.

With a perspective, I'm Jannah Manansala.

Jannah Manansala is a partner at a Bay Area labor and employment law firm and teaches labor law and policy at Cal State University East Bay.