Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Sep 02, 2014

CALIFORNIA: San Diego to require paid sick leave and raise minimum wage

Wage and Hour 

The San Diego City Council overrode the mayor’s veto on August 18, 2014, to pass an ordinance that will require employers in the City to offer paid sick leave and pay minimum wages at a new scale.

The San Diego City Council overrode the mayor’s veto on August 18, 2014, to pass an ordinance that will require employers in the City to offer paid sick leave and pay minimum wages at a new scale. Employers of all sizes are affected (Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance 20390).

Earned sick leave

  • Employers must offer paid sick leave to all employees who work at least two hours in the City in a year. Vacation and paid time off (PTO) policies are acceptable substitutes, as long as they comply with the requirements of the ordinance.
  • Employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked in the City. The minimum increment for the use of sick leave cannot be greater than two hours.
  • Sick leave begins to accrue April 1, 2015, and employees may begin taking sick leave on July 1, 2015, or after 90 days of employment, whichever is later.
  • You may limit use to 40 hours per year, but you cannot cap the continued accrual or prevent the accrued balance from carrying over to the following year.
  • You don’t have to pay out earned but unused sick leave upon termination, but must reinstate the balance if the employee is rehired within six months of leaving employment.
  • Employees may use earned sick leave when the employee or a family member is ill or injured; has a medical appointment; or is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The leave may also be used when the employer’s business or a child’s school or day care is closed for public health reasons.
  • You may require medical documentation for absences of more than three consecutive work days, but cannot require the health care provider to describe the nature of the medical condition. You may require up to seven days’ advance notice for foreseeable leave, and notice as soon as practicable for unforeseeable leave.

Minimum wage

  • January 1, 2015: $9.75 per hour
  • January 1, 2016: $10.50 per hour
  • January 1, 2017: $11.50 per hour
  • Beginning on January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, any minimum wage increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index.
  • You must display a poster in the workplace and also give employees a notice with the company’s name, address, and telephone number, explaining the sick leave and minimum wage requirements on April 1, 2015, or their date of hire, whichever is later. The City will supply the poster and will offer a template for the notice. The documents must be in English and in the employee’s primary language, if at least five percent of the workers speak that language. Records must be retained at least three years.
  • Employees will be able to file complaints with the City or go straight to court to demand back pay plus an additional equal amount as damages, as well as attorneys’ fees. The City may also order civil penalties of $1,000 per violation, although failure to give the proper notices is worth $100 per violation, up to a maximum of $2,000.

Questions? Contact your Vigilant staff representative. According to news reports, some business groups are circulating a petition to ask voters to override the ordinance through a ballot measure. Vigilant will keep members informed of developments.

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