Perhaps you voted yes on Question 4 on the state ballot on November 4, 2014, when voters passed a new sick leave law, and perhaps you’re wondering: ‘What now’?Starting on July 1, 2015, employees who work at an employer that has 11 or more employees will have 40 hours of unpaid sick time each calendar year. Employees will be able to use sick time and miss work for reasons such as (1) caring for their child, spouse, or parent who has a physical or mental illness, (2) to handle their own illness, (3) to attend a routine medical appointment for themselves or a family member, or (4) to deal with the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.
Employees do not receive 40 hours of sick time at the start of each calendar year. Instead, most employees will earn and accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours working. If an employer already provides paid sick time to its employees, the new law does not require an employer to provide additional time off so long as the existing policy allows employees to take time off for the same reasons outlined in the new law. When an employee leaves his or her job voluntarily or is fired, unlike accrued vacation time, an employer is not required to compensate an employee for accrued but unused sick leave. Importantly, the new law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who uses sick time under the new law or supports a co-worker for doing so. That means an employer cannot fire or demote an employee for using sick time under the new law.
We expect the Attorney General to provide some guidance on some portions of the new sick leave law that leave some questions unanswered, such as the interplay between this new law and existing laws (like the FMLA and the Domestic Violence Leave Act).