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Governor Brown Signs Piece-Rate Resolution

Two California appellate court decisions issued in 2013 have caused confusion and fostered numerous wage-and-hour lawsuits against California farmers who use piece-rate compensation plans. In response, the Legislature has sent to the governor a measure intended to provide some clarity and relief in this troubling area of the law.

Read more: Governor Brown Signs Piece Rate Resolution

Labor Commissioner Offers Paid Sick Leave Clarifications

In an August 7 letter to Bakersfield attorney David G. Blaine, Labor Commissioner Julie Su has offered clarity as to the meaning of a "day" for the purposes of compliance with the Paid Sick Leave (PSL) mandate.  Previously, the length of a "day" for employees customarily working ten hour days was unclear.  The law that established the PSL mandate is AB 1522 the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (2014), later amended by AB 304 (2015).

The question concerned use of "front-loaded" PSL, where an employer grants an employee three "days" PSL at the beginning the year.  In that situation, is that employer obliged to grant an employee who customarily works ten hours per day 24 hours of paid sick leave (as specified by AB 1522) or 30 hours, which would be the equivalent of three days for employees who usually work 10 hour days (such as ag employees covered by Wage Order 14, or employees working subject to a flextime arrangement).

According to the Labor Commissioner's interpretation of the law, such an employer would be obliged to furnish 30 hours of PSL, as this would result in the employee being furnished sufficient PSL to cover the minimum of three days mandated by the PSL statute.

Similarly, the Labor Commissioner interpreted the "3 day or 24 hours" limitation which employers are permitted to impose on use of PSL in any given year as requiring the employer of a ten-hour employee to limit the employee to total use of 30 hours of PSL, rather than 24 as specified in the statute.  Again, the Labor Commissioner cites the general rule that the Legislature expressed its intent in the PSL legislation that employees should be permitted to take a minimum of three days of PSL, including 30 hours of PSL if the employee normally works a ten hour day.

You can read the Labor Commissioner's letter at this link.

Paid Sick Leave Corrections Bill Signed by Governor Brown

On July 13, Governor Brown signed AB 304 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) making several adjustments and corrections to AB 1522 (also by Assemblymember Gonzalez) passed by the California Legislature in 2014.

The process of implementation in late 2014 and early 2015 revealed a number of problems with the original sick leave mandate bill, some of which are fixed by AB 304:

  • Specifies that existing paid time off (PTO) and paid sick leave (PSL) programs that accrue in a different manner than that specified by AB 1522 (one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked) are compliant with the PSL mandate if the accrual method used allows an employee to earn at least 24 hours of leave by the 120th calendar day of employment. This allows employers to use more common accrual methods that accrue by the pay period, rather than by the number of hours worked.
  • Excuses employers from providing additional paid sick leave if they had a PSL or PTO program in place as of January 1, 2015 that allowed employees to accrue at least one day or eight hours of PSL or PTO within three months of employment, and allowed employees to accrue at least three days or 24 hours of PSL or PTO within nine months of employment.
  • Clarifies that if an employer pays out unused PTO at termination, the employer is not required to reinstate that accrued but unused PTO if the employee returns to the employer's employment within one year.
  • Allows an employer providing unlimited paid sick leave or paid time off to report the employee's leave balance on a pay check stub or wage statement as "unlimited."
  • Allows employers to calculate the rate of pay for employees paid on commission or by piece-rate to calculate the proper rate at which paid sick leave is paid to the employee by either:Clarifies that it is not necessary for employers to maintain any records or inquire into employee's reasons for using PSL or PTO.
    • Dividing the employee's total compensation over the prior 90 days by the hours worked in the prior 90 days; or,
    • Calculating the PSL pay rate in the same manner as the employer calculates the employee's regular rate of pay for the purpose of calculating overtime.

FELS will furnish further guidance and information about the implementation of the PSL mandate as it becomes available.

Paid Sick Leave Compliance Resources

FELS Sacramento offices have received numerous telephone calls and emails from FELS Newsletter subscribers and CFBF members requesting assistance with compliance with various aspects of the new Paid Sick Leave (PSL) mandate imposed by AB 1522, passed by the California Legislature in 2014.

Here are some compliance resources that may be of help to you in meeting the basic requirements of the PSL mandate:

Workplace posting and Individual Employee Notification (both available in English and Spanish at this link on the DLSE website.)

  • The posting is required in the workplace to inform workers about the new PSL law.  It should be placed with other workplace informational postings required by other laws, like minimum wage and workplace safety and health information. 
  • The individual employee notice is a revision of the notice employers have been required to provide for several years by "wage theft prevention" legislation passed by the California legislature (Labor Code 2810.5).  The Office of the Labor Commissioner had indicated that employees must be individually notified about PSL using the information provided by this form.  This form is a template provided by the Office of the Labor Commissioner; you are not required to use this exact form, but you are required to provide all the information from the template about PSL.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the PSL mandate.  These FAQ may he helpful for employers to understand the Labor Commissioner's expectations for compliance with PSL.
  • FELS Federal & State Employment Notifications Posters & Book include the new workplace postings required by the PSL mandate; you can order posters and books at this link.

If we can be of further assistance, please contact FELS at 800-753-9073 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Employers required to notify employees about paid sick leave

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) reminds employers of the labor law requirement to notify their workers in writing about their rights under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (Assembly bill 1522) – California’s new paid sick leave law – that took effect on July 1, 2015.

Read more: Paid Sick Leave Notice Required

Presentations from "Are You Ready for 2015," April 2015

Programs in Petaluma, Stockton, Santa Paula, Bakersfield & Fresno



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