Emerging Exceptions to Paid Sick Leave Laws: Progress at Last

Paid sick leave laws have continued to make employers sick with their complexity and rigidity (we recently addressed them here if you missed it). Worse, they’re hard to apply, as their requirements are often clear as mud when first released.

Finally, some states are starting to offer clarity. Here’s a guest post by one of our Solution Center advisors on some updates in California that represent a step in a useful direction:

An ongoing frustration with the wave of paid sick leave laws sweeping the nation has been the lack of awareness by the legislatures of how these laws truly impact employers. For example, by making all employees eligible for the sick pay benefit, even a doctor who is paid on commission for the work they perform gets sick pay. But…doctors are already very highly paid!

This has meant that when a doctor does not come to work, you either lose production or pay someone else to cover the patients, and you have to pay the doctor who called out. This is completely impractical and financially burdensome—especially in small to mid-sized practices—and it’s precisely the type of business reality that has been overlooked by legislators.

Fortunately, two CA cities seem to have finally got something right. Both Los Angeles and San Diego passed sick leave laws in the summer of 2016, each of which provides more sick days and more protections to employees than were already provided under state law. Due to the legislation being rushed through, however, a number of areas of each law were unclear. Both cities have now issued clarifications on their laws—including the fact that the increased sick time and protections granted by city law do not apply to exempt employees (such as doctors).

Therefore, if you are in Los Angeles or San Diego and have an employee who meets the criteria for professional, executive, or administrative exemption (see California’s exempt classification requirements here), you only have to provide them with the sick leave mandated by the state law and do not need to provide the additional time under the city law. While they are still getting paid sick days, they are eligible for significantly less than they could be if the city laws applied.

We are hopeful that this sets the stage for other jurisdictions to be more mindful of how their sick pay laws are impacting employers, and to take the time to write exclusions or at least separately address highly compensated employees. This area of many mandatory sick pay laws is disproportionately difficult for small businesses and could easily be improved as laws are clarified and FAQs updated.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace counsel about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. This material is meant to provide information that is believed to be current as of the date of this post.

Have questions about sick leave laws in your area? Owners or managers at independent healthcare practices can contact CEDR HR Solutions at 866-414-6056 or info@cedrsolutions.com. CEDR members, as always, you’ve got this taken care of! We’re here to keep your policies updated and help when you need us—just get in touch.

Jul 7, 2017

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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