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California Paid Sick Leave

In the state of California, most employers abide by a paid sick leave law. Most workers earn Paid Sick Leave to take time off work to care for themself or a family member.

Paid Sick Leave is a permanent law in California that requires employers to provide at least 24 hours, or three days off each year, to most workers as paid sick days. All employees are eligible for this paid sick time, including full-time, part-time, and temporary workers who:

  • Work for the same employer for at least 30 days within a year in California
  • Complete a 90-day employment period before taking any paid sick leave

Paid Sick Leave can be used to:

  • Recover from physical/mental illness or injury
  • To seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care
  • To care for an ill family member or who needs a medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care

Employers can choose to provide more paid sick days or hours off as part of an individual paid sick leave policy within their company. Employers can choose to have a paid sick leave policy that provides all of the hours at one time, or the paid sick days policy can require employees to earn the paid sick leave hours in an accrual plan. Employees under a sick leave accrual plan must earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for each 30 hours of work.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 is a new law from 2021 that required employers to provide additional paid time off for certain COVID-19 reasons. A similar Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law for 2022 was in effect until December 31, 2022.

Important Things to Know About California Paid Sick Leave

  1. Accrual of Paid Sick Leave: On a sick leave accrual plan, employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. They can also be provided with a lump sum of paid sick leave at the beginning of each year to use at their discretion.
  2. The Use of Paid Sick Leave: Paid sick leave can be used for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of the employee or their family member, or for preventive care. It can also be used as paid time for situations related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  3. Rate of Pay: Employees must be paid at their regular rate of pay for the hours taken as paid sick leave.
  4. Paid Sick Leave Carryover & Usage Limitations: Employees are entitled to carry over unused sick leave to the following year, but employers can limit the usage of paid sick leave to 24 hours or three days in a calendar year.
  5. Notice and Documentation: Employers can require reasonable notification from employees when using paid sick leave. However, they cannot require employees to find a replacement as a condition for taking sick leave. Employers may also require reasonable documentation for absences exceeding three consecutive workdays.


Can an employer deny sick time in California?

In California, employers generally cannot deny paid sick leave solely due to a lack of certification from a healthcare provider. Employees have the right to request and take paid sick leave immediately, without the condition of providing medical certification.

How Do Sick Days Work – FAQ

can a job fire you for being sick? It is illegal for a California employer to terminate your employment if you use sick leave that you have accrued and are entitled to use. If you are fired for using sick leave, you might be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination under California law. It’s best to contact an employment attorney, likes the powerful team at Lawyers for Justice, PC, for getting more information sick leave law so they can help you with your unique circumstance.

can an employer deny sick days? An employer cannot: deny an employee the right to use their accrued sick days, discharge the employee, threaten to discharge the employee, demote or suspend the worker, or discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days. An employer that provides California paid sick leave also cannot display retaliatory behavior if an employee exercises their right to use accrued sick days or file a complaint for an alleged violation of paid sick leave law.

can you use sick days for vacation? Yes, but an employer may limit or cap the overall amount of California paid sick leave an employee may accrue to 6 days or 48 hours. Some employers provide paid time, often referred to as “paid time off” or PTO, employees can use for general time away from the workplace.

does sick time get paid out? California paid sick leave does not get paid out unless your employer’s policy provides for a payout. However, if you leave your job and get rehired by the same employer within 12 months, you may be able to reclaim what you had accrued in paid sick leave.

can you get fired for calling in sick too many times? When it comes to at-will employment, an employer can fire an employee for any reason – and they also don’t have to tell you that your illness (or excessive absences because of that illness) had anything to do with it. However, there are situations where your employer is not legally allowed to fire you for missing work due to being sick “too much.” There is no permanent federal law in place that requires employers to provide paid sick leave. There are, however, many state laws and local laws that do—and if that’s the case, your employer can’t fire you for taking the sick leave you’re legally entitled to (even if they consider your absences “excessive” or “being sick too much”).