California Paid Sick Leave Law 2024 – All You Need to Know

Frank S. Clowney III

Thanks to state law, the majority of Californian workers, both full- and part-time, will earn paid sick leave (often shortened to PSL in employment law and human resources circles). This is a special type of paid leave that employees can use to either care for an ailing family member or recover from an illness of their own.

Earning Paid Sick Leave

You do not automatically have paid sick leave when you are hired by an employer in California. Rather, you must either accrue it or earn it through hours spent working with a qualifying Californian employer. In California, the accrual of paid sick leave hours is fairly straightforward and works as follows:

  • An employee must work for an employer with 5 or more employees to qualify. This is a recent change that represents a significant increase in coverage versus the previous law, which only applied to operations with 50 or more workers.
  • An employee must maintain their employment status for a minimum of 90 consecutive calendar days before using any paid sick leave benefits.
  • An employee is only eligible for paid sick leave benefits after working for the same California-based employer for at least 30 days within a calendar year.

The combined effect of these two rules is that someone must be on the job with a company for at least 3 months, and work at least 30 shifts within those 3 months, to be eligible to use their state-mandated paid sick leave benefits.

Once eligible, employees receive a minimum of 24 hours (or three full workdays) of paid sick leave per year. Workers who need to take a longer hiatus are also guaranteed 12 weeks per year of leave under the state’s recently expanded CFRA (California Family Rights Act), so long as they meet the minimum criteria for that program (12 months and at least 1,250 hours with the same employer). CFRA leave is unpaid, but it still protects your job when you need significant time off for extended illnesses or parental leave.

It is important to note that some companies may offer enhanced sick leave packages on a case-by-case basis as a way to attract high-quality candidates. If you are a member of a labor union, it is also fairly likely that your collective bargaining agreement contains expanded sick leave benefits. Senior full-time employees at some companies enjoy a week or more of flexible sick leave, so it’s definitely worth checking the specific terms of your employment–don’t assume that you only have the minimum 24-hour benefit available. The employment law team at The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III can help you understand the exact terms of your employment contract. We can also determine if your employer owes you additional leave beyond what is promised by state law.

Using Paid Sick Leave

The specific procedures required to claim your paid sick leave hours will vary a bit from business to business, so check with your employer’s HR representative to go over the specifics of using paid sick leave. It should generally be a very straightforward process of simply notifying the correct resource at your employer that you are taking a paid sick leave day. If you feel that your employer’s rules concerning paid sick leave are overly restrictive, confusing, or cumbersome (or if they fail to pay you for a paid sick leave day) you may want to speak with an attorney. The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III can help you determine if you have a viable case through a no-pressure consultation.

Paid sick leave can be used for a broad range of health-related issues, such as:

  • Recovering from a serious injury
  • Being unable to work effectively due to illness
  • Caring for a family member who is ill
  • Assisting family members with seeking necessary diagnosis or treatment
  • Mental health issues
  • Attending appointments to seek diagnosis or medical care

Understanding your rights (and responsibilities) concerning paid sick leave laws in California is crucial for every working Californian. While we don’t like to think about it, we all have health or family issues that need to be dealt with sometimes. When this happens, you should be able to easily access the rights (and pay) that you are guaranteed under state law. When this doesn’t go smoothly, you may need to explore your options for legal recourse. The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III is here to help.


Q: What Are the Rules for Paid Sick Leave in California?

A: Some of the basic rules governing your guaranteed paid sick leave as a worker in California include:

  • You must have worked for your employer for at least 3 months.
  • You must have worked 30 shifts during those 3 months.

Your paid sick leave benefit should be 24 hours (i.e., three work days) per year at minimum, though many employers offer more. If you have other, specific, questions about the rules for paid sick leave in California (or how to take action if your employer violates them) please contact The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III for a no-pressure consultation at your earliest convenience.

Q: What Are the Changes in California FMLA in 2023?

A: There are two key changes to family leave laws in California in 2023:

  1. The definition of a family member is expanded to include anyone with whom an employee has a family-like relationship.  This person must be designated as such when the employee requests leave.
  2. Bereavement leave is expanded to include 5 days of leave within three months of the death of a family member.

Q: Is California Considering Expanding Paid Sick Leave to Seven Paid Days?

A: Sick leave and other state-mandated benefits for workers are often a topic of debate among politicians and societal influencers. There have been bills introduced in the California legislature that would, among other things, expand paid sick leave to seven days. Although these important protections may be enhanced, it’s important to operate under the laws as they currently exist.

Q: What Is the New CFRA Law in 2023?

A: California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA) was recently expanded to cover many more employees. Previously, only employers with 50 or more workers were subject to this law. Now, any operation with 5 or more employees must offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for things like the birth of a child, caring for a sick family member, or being called up for military service.

The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III – Your California Sick Leave and CFRA Professionals

Trying to understand all the complexities and nuances of California’s Paid Sick Leave law can be incredibly confusing. Thankfully, you don’t need to go into this process alone. If you’re unsure about your paid sick leave rights or how to exercise them, or if you believe that your employer may be violating them, The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III is available to help.

With a wealth of experience and a firm commitment to serving the working families of California, our team can guide you through the complexities of the paid sick leave law in California. We can ensure that you are able to use your state-mandated benefits and that you are fairly compensated for any violations by your employer. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn how we can help.