July 3, 2024
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Paid sick leave gets more complex under new law


California’s new paid sick law took affect July 1, expanding coverage for an estimated additional 6.5 million employed citizens.

An estimated 40 percent of California workers weren’t eligible to receive paid sick leave previously and now most will have access, which is great news for employees. On the opposite side of the coin, however, employers could face new penalties if they don’t update their current policies.

The legislation makes California one of only three states, along with Connecticut and Massachusetts, that have passed laws mandating paid sick leave. At least 18 cities nationwide, including San Francisco, Oakland and now Emeryville, already require it.

While most employers that already offer paid sick leave provide more than the minimum number of days required under the new law, they will have to comply with new notice and record-keeping requirements, and will have to cover part-time and temporary workers if they don’t already.

According to Naomi Dewey, a partner at Santa Barbara-based law firm Buynak, Archibald, Fauver and Spay, the basics are as follows: An employee must earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked in a work week. Employers can calculate this two ways – using the accrual method, which could result in more than eight days a year for a full-time employee, or as a one-time award that can be banked and drawn on through the year.

If you use the accrual method, you can cap the leave at six days, or 48 hours, and employees can carry up to six days of leave over to the following year. Employers can still limit the amount of leave taken each year to three days. The lump sum award does not carry over, but the employee will get a new allowance of three days the following year.

If an employee leaves with leave in the “bank,” you do not have to cash them out or pay for unused sick leave, but if you re-hire them in the same calendar year, the banked leave will reactivate.

This means that an employee cannot use three days, leave, get rehired, and get another three days in the same year.

That math can get tricky for a small business owner that has always operated on the honor system or had been lax in making sure sick leave got on the books.

Additionally, knowing how to pay the new leave is just as important. According to Dewey, first employers must indicate how much leave is available on each pay stub given to the employee.

Second, records for each employee showing how much leave is earned and used must be kept for three years. Third, the sick leave should be paid at the employee’s regular hourly rate, or if the employee is partly compensated based on commission, the average hourly compensation over the preceding 90 days.

If the new paid sick leave changes aren’t coordinated with any existing leave offered to employees, unnecessary administrative and legal headaches could result as employers juggle new payroll reporting requirements and the ever-expanding web of paid and unpaid leave entitlements.

Magum PI accused of stealing water

In a complaint filed in Ventura County Superior Court, the Calleguas Municipal Water District is alleging that former “Magnum P.I.” star Tom Selleck and his equally famous mustache are responsible for stealing water from a Thousand Oaks hydrant and delivering it to his 60-acre estate and avocado farm in Westlake Village.

In the complaint, the Calleguas Municipal Water District said they’ve spent $22,000 on an actual private investigator to collect evidence on the thieving over the past two years. On more than a dozen occasions since 2013, a white water truck filled up then delivered the water to Selleck’s home, which is the Hidden Valley Municipal Water District.

In March of this year, the water truck was spotted filling up at the same hydrant and delivering water to Selleck’s estate on four separate days, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, in addition to legal fees and investigative costs, the water district is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction barring Selleck and his contractors or employees from taking water from the Calleguas district.