Omid Nosrati

Who's eligible for paid sick leave under California law?

Most of us would prefer not to think about it, but there will come a time over the course of the work year when we develop some manner of illness from an especially nasty cold to an incapacitating intestinal ailment.

Indeed, even though we might try our best to try to make it to our desk, sometimes we end up losing the battle and only make it as far as the couch. While the idea of having to miss work can be unnerving, workers here in California should at least take comfort in the fact that they have certain rights relating to paid sick leave.


State law dictates that employees qualify for paid sick leave once they satisfy the following two conditions:

  • They must work for the same employer for a minimum of 30 days in California within a given year; and
  • They must complete a 90-day employment period akin to a probationary period

It's important to understand that sick leave eligibility does not result where an employee works fewer than 30 calendar days for the same employer inside California in a year.

For example, if a traveling salesperson who lives in another state and works for a company headquartered in California only spent six working days in a given year at the base of operations, he or she would not qualify for sick time.       

As to whether only full-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave, this is not the case, as part-time employees, temporary employees and per diem employees are all covered.

Indeed, there are only a handful of employees exempt from the provisions of the "Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act," which took effect back in 2015:

  • Those who provide publicly-funded In-Home Supportive Services
  • Those covered by collective bargaining agreements with different provisions
  • Those employed by air carriers as crew or flight deck members (provided they receive paid sick leave commensurate with that called for under state law)
  • Those retired individuals who receive an annuity and are working for government entities  

We'll continue this discussion next time, examining more about the minimum amount of paid sick leave that must be granted to qualifying employees -- 24 hours per year -- and the models by which it can be accrued.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you believe that your employer has taken illegal actions concerning your hard-earned wages. 

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