California Sick Leave Law





Eligible employees

All employees who work in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment are eligible to paid sick leave under California’s paid sick leave law, except for the following:

  • employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that covers wages, hours, and other employee working conditions that contains provisions for the following:
    • paid sick days or other paid time off that may be used for sick leave,
    • final and binding arbitration of disputes about the use of paid leave for sickness,
    • premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, and
    • regular hourly rates that are not less then 30% more than the state minimum wage rate.
  • employees in the construction industry who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that:
    • provides for:
      • wages, hours of work, and employee working conditions;
      • premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked; and
      • regular hourly pay that is not less than 30% more than the state minimum wage rate.
    • meets one of these two requirements:
      • was entered into before January 1, 2015, or
      • clearly and unambiguously waives the requirements of California’s sick leave law.
    • For purposes of this law, an employee working in the construction industry includes employees performing onsite work involving alteration, demolition, building, excavation, renovation, remodeling, maintenance, improvement, repair work, any work described in CA Business and Professions Code, Chapter 9 (7000-7191), and other similar or related occupations or trades.
  • employees who provide in-home support services under CA Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 14132.95, Section 14132.952, Section 14132.956, and Division 9, Part 3, Chapter 3, Article 7 (beginning with Section 12300)
  • employees working for an air carrier as a flight deck or cabin crew member covered by Title II of the federal Railway Labor Act (45 USC 181-188), so long as the employee is provided with compensated time off equal to or exceeding the amount of paid leave required by California’s sick leave law

CA Labor Code, Section 245.5(a), 246(a)




Covered employers

All employers in California are required to provide paid sick leave to all employees, unless the employee is exempt from coverage as discussed above. CA Labor Code, Section 245.5(b)



Sick Leave Accrual

Under California’s sick leave law, employees are to accrue one (1) hour of sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked. Accrual of sick leave begins on the first day of an employee’s employment (if an employee began working before July 1, 2015, accrual begins from that date). Employers must allow employees to carry over sick leave from one year to the next, unless the employer provides employees their entire annual sick leave amount at the beginning of the year. Employers may cap an employee’s total accrued sick leave at forty-eight (48) hours. For accrual purposes, administrative, executive, and professional employees who are exempt from California’s overtime requirements are deemed to work forty (40) hours per week for purposes of sick leave accrual. Employers may choose to allow employees to take a credit against future sick leave accruals so long as the advance is properly documented.

CA Labor Code, Section 246(b), (d), and (g)



Permitted Uses

An employee may use paid sick leave:

  • for diagnosis, care, or treatment of his or her own existing health condition or the existing health condition of a family member;
  • for the employee’s preventative care or the preventative care of a family member;
  • when he or she is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and he or she is:
    • seeking to obtain any relief, including, but not limited to, a temporary restraining order, restraining order, or other injunctive relief to help ensure the health, safety, or welfare of the employee or his or her child;
    • seeking medical attention for any injuries;
    • obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center;
    • obtaining psychological counseling related to the experience(s);
    • participating in safety planning and taking other actions to increase safety from future domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including temporary or permanent relocation.

CA Labor Code, Section 246.5(a), 230(c), 230.1(a)



Family member defined

For purposes of the California sick leave law, a family member includes:

  • a child, regardless of age or dependency status, including a biological child, adopted child, foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis
  • a parent, including a biological parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child
  • a spouse
  • registered domestic partner
  • a grandparent
  • a grandchild
  • a sibling

CA Labor Code, Section 245.5(c)



Healthcare provider defined

For purposes of the California sick leave law, a health care provider is defined to be the same as a health care provided defined in CA Government Code, Section 12945.2(c)(6). CA Labor Code, Section 245.5(d)



Eligibility to Use Sick Leave

Although employees begin accruing sick leave on the day the begin working for an employer, they may only begin using accrued sick leave after they have worked a minimum of ninety (90) days for the employer. CA Labor Code, Section 246(c)



Annual and other use limits

An employer may limit an employee’s use of sick leave to twenty-four (24) hours in a year. CA Labor Code, Section 246(d) Employers may set reasonable time increments (e.g., 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc.) they will charge employees when they use sick leave, but in no case shall the time increments exceed two hours. CA Labor Code, Section 246(j)



Rate of Pay Required

Employers must pay employees for sick leave at the employee’s regular wage rate. If employees in the first 90 days of employment, when they are ineligible to take paid sick leave, were paid different hourly wage rates, were paid by commission or piece rate, or were nonexempt salaried employees, then the employer must calculate the rate of pay by dividing the total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment. CA Labor Code, Section 245.5(e), 246(k)



Payment after use of sick leave

Employers must pay employees for sick leave no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the leave was taken. CA Labor Code, Section 246(m)



Payment of Accrued Sick Leave upon Separation from Employment

An employer is not required to pay employees for accrued sick leave upon separation from employment, regardless of the reason. CA Labor Code, Section 246(f)(1)



Rehired employees

An employee who is rehired by the same employer within a year is entitled to the reinstatement of all previously accrued sick leave and may begin to use the sick leave on the first day of rehire. The reason for the employee’s initial separation from employment does not matter. CA Labor Code, Section 246(f)(2)



Alternative Eligible Leave Policies

An employer is considered to be in compliance with California’s sick leave law if it offers any other paid leave or combination of paid leave, such as vacation, personal days, or paid time off, that:

  • provides at least 24 hours of paid leave each year of employment, calendar year, or designated 12-month period that may be used for the purposes required by California’s sick leave law; and
  • meets the accrual, carry over, and use requirements of California’s sick leave law .

CA Labor Code, Section 246(e)



Employer Notice Requirement

An employer must provide employees in writing the amount of sick leave, or qualifying paid leave alternative, they have available. The written notice may be listed on the employees’ statement of wages (pay stub) or provided on a separate document delivered to the employee on the designated pay date. CA Labor Code, Section 246(h)

At the time of hire, an employer must provide to each employee a written notice, in the language the employer normally uses to communicate information to employees, of the following:

  • that employees are entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick leave,
  • their employer may not terminate or otherwise retaliate against them for using or requesting to use accrued sick leave, and
  • they have a right to file a claim against their employer with the California Department of Industrial Relations.

CA Labor Code, Section 2810.5

The California Department of Industrial Relations has published a Notice to Employees form that employers may fill out and distribute to new employees that contains the necessary sick leave notice information as well as other required initial hire notice information. (English, Spanish, Vietnamese)

Additionally, an employer must display a poster in a conspicuous place that contains the following information:

  • that employees are entitled to accrue, request, and use paid sick leave,
  • the amount of sick days provided for by the California sick leave law,
  • the terms of sick leave use, and
  • that retaliation for requesting or using sick leave is prohibited and that employees have a right to file a claim against the employer with the California Department of Industrial Relations.

CA Labor Code, Section 247

The California Department of Industrial Relations has created a poster employers may post that meets the posting requirement. (English, Spanish, Vietnamese)



Employee Notice Requirement

An employer may require employees to provide reasonable advanced notice of their intention to use sick leave if the use is foreseeable. If the need for sick leave is unforeseeable, an employer may require employees to provide notice of their intention to use sick leave as soon as practicable. Employees may provide necessary notice verbally or in writing. CA Labor Code, Section 246(f)(2)



Prohibited practices

California’s sick leave law prohibits an employer from:

  • denying an employee the right to use accrued sick leave;
  • discharging, threatening to discharge, demoting, suspending, or taking any other adverse action against an employee for:
    • using or attempting to use sick leave,
    • filing a complaint with the California Department of Industrial Relations,
    • alleging a violation of the sick leave law,
    • cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of the sick leave law,
    • opposing any policy or practice or act that is prohibited, and
  • requiring employees to search for or find replacement workers to work on the days they will be using sick leave

CA Labor Code, Section 246.5(b), (c)(1)



Retaliation and presumed violations

Under California’s sick leave law, an employer will be presumed to have retaliated against an employee and violated the law if it denies an employee the right to use sick leave, discharges, threatens, demotes, suspends, or takes any other adverse employment action against the employee within thirty (30) days after the employee has:

  • filing a complaint with the California Department of Industrial Relations,
  • cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of the sick leave law, or
  • opposing a policy, practice, or other act that is prohibited by the sick leave law.

The employer may overcome the presumption by showing sufficient evidence that the adverse employment action was taken for other, non-discriminatory reasons. CA Labor Code, Section 246.5(c)(2)