What to Know

California Sick Leave Laws

Picture of worker feeling ill. Worried about calling in sick.

California law provides all eligible employees with sick leave.

If your employer is preventing you from taking advantage of your rights to sick leave, call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

We do not charge for consultations.

We can help clients in Los Angeles and throughout California.

If I Call in Sick, Can My Employer Say No?

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Family Act of 2014 requires California employers to provide sick leave to all eligible employees.

Who is eligible for sick leave in California?

Generally, this applies to all employees who have worked 30 days or more for an employer in California after starting a job, unless an exception applies, such as some union members covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that meets specific requirements. Some temporary employees on assignment in California for less than 30 days are not eligible.

How soon can an employee use sick leave days?

Employers can impose a 90-day waiting period on employees before they can use paid sick leave.

Does an employee need to give notice to use sick leave?

Employees who know they will need to use sick days beforehand must give notice reasonably in advance. Otherwise, they must inform their employer as soon as possible.

For what purposes can an employee use their sick days?

Employees can use sick days for diagnosis, care, or treatment of existing conditions and preventative care, for themselves and certain "family members." Under California law, employees can use at least part of their yearly sick leave to care for family members.

Additionally, sick leave can be used by an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other specified purposes.

Can an employer require a worker to find a replacement to use sick leave?

No, an employee is not required to find a substitute or replacement when they are out on sick leave, and an employer cannot force an employee to do so.

Can an employer discriminate or retaliate against an employee for using their sick leave?

No, an employer cannot deny an employee their right to use sick leave. The California Labor Code provides "An employer shall not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days[.]"

What can I do if my employer won't let me use my sick leave?

When an employer refuses to allow employees to exercise their right to paid sick leave, the implications can be severe. An employee prevented from exercising their right to sick leave is entitled to reinstatement and actual damages or a day's pay, whichever is greater. If an employee files a court case and prevails, a court may award reasonable attorney's fees.

If you are denied your right to use sick leave, or your employer is retaliating against you or discriminating against you for using your sick leave, contact an employment attorney to discuss your situation. 888-762-0297.

Are sick days paid out when an employee leaves their job?

No, unlike paid-time-off, employers do not have to pay out unused sick days when an employee leaves their job. Note that if an employee returns to work for the same employer in less than one year, any previously accrued sick leave which was unused must be reinstated.

For more information

To discuss your case, call us at 888-762-0297 and ask to speak with an employment attorney about your case.

Your consultation is confidential, informative, and free.

We work on a contingency basis. There are no attorney's fees or costs if there's no recovery.

We can help clients in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Orange County, Riverside County, and elsewhere in California.

Last updated on October 30, 2021.

Additional Resources

• Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. California Labor Code Section 245-249.

• California Kin-Care law – California Labor Code Section 233.

• California Paid Sick Leave: FAQ – California Labor Commissioner's Office.

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