Employers, Pay Heed to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (“HWHFA”)

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (“HWHFA” ) requirement’s become effective July 1, 2015. The new law obligates employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to their employees. It is extremely important that employers take notice of the new legal requirements, to avoid fines and penalties.

The law is enforced through the California Labor Commissioner and the California Attorney General. If an employer violates the law, the HWHFA does not expressly permit employees to bring private civil suits; however, employees may be able to assert wrongful termination claims for statutory violations. Further, employees may bring claims under the Private Attorney General’s Act, seeking recovery of not only equitable, injunctive and restitutionary damages, but attorneys’ fees and costs reimbursement.

Violating employers may be assessed up to three times the upaid sick leave due, as well as administrative fines ranging from $50 to $4,000 per violation. The Labor Commissioner or the Attorney General may also recover civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, cost and interest against employers, as well as reinstatement of employees.

HWHFA requires changes to the employer’s new-hire employee notice; a different workplace-posting requirement; and, recordkeeping changes. HWHFA’s specific requirements include:

1. Display a poster addressing employees’ rights for mandatory sick time pay. This poster needs to be placed in a prominent location where it can easily be seen.
2. Provide written notice to newly hired employees reflecting the paid sick leave rights owed at time of hire.
3. Provide accrual of sick time or paid time off for employees, including part-time and temporary employees, in either of two parameters: Employees may earn one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked. Or, employers may provide at least 24 hours or three days at the beginning of a twelve month period of sick leave for employees to use per year. Accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.
4. Allow eligible employees to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on or after the 90th day of employment.
5. Employers may limit an employee’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or three days during each year of employment.
6. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees that request paid sick days.
7. Provide written notice to employees every payday of the amount of sick time or days accrued and available for use. This notice may be placed on the pay-stub or document issued the same day as the paycheck.
8. Maintain employment records going back three years showing employee’s hours worked, paid sick time accrued and used.

Additional information is available on California’s website under the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

We encourage employers to consult with legal counsel to review the company’s policies and compliance with HWHFA.