Paid Sick Leave

Sick leave ordinances prescribe how employers must provide paid sick leave based upon employee hours, tenure of employment, etc.  Once a rarity, these policies are becoming commonplace in states and local municipalities across the country.

San Francisco

Established in 2007, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance requires that employers with fewer than 10 employees who work in a week can cap the accrued sick leave at 40 hours a year. Employers with more than 10 employees can cap sick leave at 72 hours a year. Employers are required to retain records of hours worked and sick leave for four years. For the ordinance background and language, visit here. Download the required posting here. Please note that the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement provided updated Frequently Asked Questions in November 2015, to explain how the new State ordinance works with the City’s preexisting one.  Those FAQs are found here.


Since March 2015, businesses are required to provide at least five days of sick leave to all employees, which accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  The Paid Sick leave provisions require that any employee who performs at least two (2) hours of work in a given week within the geographic boundaries of Oakland is entitled to accrue paid sick leave for every thirty hours (30) hours they work, including overtime.  Employees are not entitled to use any accrued paid sick leave until after ninety (90) calendar days of employment.  Small businesses (less than 10 employees) may cap paid sick leave earned by an employee at forty hours (40) hours, while a cap can be set at seventy-two (72) hours for employees of all other employers. If an employee uses paid sick leave and falls below the cap, even during the same year, he/she starts accruing paid leave again. An employer may also set a higher cap for paid sick leave or no cap at all; accrued hours carryover to the next year.  For the Oakland City Attorney’s Frequently Asked Questions, visit here. For the posting (which includes postings for minimum wage and related to service charges) visit here.


After becoming effective January 2015, and accrual beginning July 1, 2015, employers in the State of California are required to provide all employees (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The new law is only the second of its kind, following Connecticut, in mandating paid sick leave as a statewide policy. The specifics of the law include: employees begin accruing the sick leave hours after 90 days of employment; the leave hours carry over from one calendar year to the next; the ability of an employer to limit employees use to 24 hours, or a total of 3 days in each calendar year; requirements for employers to post notice of the paid sick leave law in a visible space where all employees may read it; written notice to new hires as a part of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, as well as written notice of amount of sick time accrued after each pay period to employees; and, protection for employees who use their paid sick leave. The sick leave may be used for either the employee themselves, or a family member or designated person who requires care from the employee.

Below is a chart highlighting the major differences between the new CA Sick Leave Requirements and the existing ordinance in San Francisco.  For San Francisco and Oakland businesses, please note that with State law, sick leave hour accrual begins immediately, as opposed to 90 days after hire. Remember, you must comply with the parts of the local and state law that are of better benefit to the employee.

Paid Sick Leave CA Law SF Ordinance Oakland Ordinance
Accrual First Day After 90 days After 90 days
Accrual Cap 48 Hours 40 hours for employers with less than 10 employees; those with more than 10 employees, 72 hours 40 hours for employers with less than 10 employees; those with more than 10 employees, 72 hours
Usage Cap 3 days per year None 5 days for less than 10 employees, 9 days for larger employers
Record Keeping Requirements Employees must maintain records of hours worked and sick leave accrued for a minimum of 3 years; written notice to employees of accrual at each pay period Employees must maintain records of hours worked and sick leave accrued for a minimum of 4 years Employees must maintain records of hours worked and sick leave accrued for a minimum of 3 years

Paid Parental Leave (San Francisco)

Currently, California employees can receive 55% of their salary through California’s Paid Family Leave program for up to 6 weeks of child bonding time. San Francisco recently passed legislation that requires all employers with at least 20 employees to pay the remaining 45% of an employee’s salary for these 6 weeks of child bonding time. To qualify, employees must work for an employer for 180 days, at least 8 hrs/week. An employer may require an employee to use all vacation time before paying leave.

As of January 1, 2018, employers with 20 or more employees are required to comply with the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO). The PPLO requires employers to provide supplemental compensation to employees receiving California Paid Family Leave to bond with a new child. Employers with 50 or more were covered as of January 1, 2017, and those with 35 or more employees were covered as of July 1, 2017.  

AB 908 now establishes a State wage replacement rate of 60% or 70%, with the higher percentage for those employees earning 30% or less of the California average wage. This law also removes the seven day waiting period for California Paid Family Leave benefits.

For more information, please click here.