BREAKING NEWS – Get Ready for More Paid Sick Leave


By Molly Wood, SPHR, MAOL Senior HR Consultant

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB616 this morning, increasing the state’s Paid Sick Leave mandate from 24 hours to 40 hours per year effective January 1, 2024. This may be a relief for employers who were anticipating the rumored increase to 56 hours but is still a considerable increase for employers who have not already been required to provide 40 hours by the City of San Diego.

Why should we be excited about this? Here are some reasons provided in the Governor’s press release, along with a translation to what it means in our real lives.

According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “working sick costs the national economy $273 billion annually in lost productivity”. OK, that is a lot of money, but what does it mean to the average business? People who come to work when they are sick are not at their best. They are more likely to make mistakes, work at a slower rate, and of course get their co-workers sick if they are on-site.

According to Economic Policy Institute, two days of unpaid sick time is nearly the equivalent of a month’s worth of groceries. I don’t know where they do their shopping, but two days at $20/hour gross is $320. Taking out for taxes and other deductions, we are looking at closer to $240. If you don’t drink wine or eat meat, live by yourself, don’t have pets, and are sticking to a 600 calorie/day diet, maybe you could get a month’s worth of groceries on that, but in San Diego two days of unpaid sick time probably has a lot stronger impact. The point is that if people have to be out of work without Paid Sick Leave, they can’t feed themselves or their families, and none of us wants that.

Offering sick days helps save employers money through improved productivity and morale, as well as reduced presenteeism and turnover. The person who wrote this press release most likely has not seen the sick time request with reason being “cousin’s wedding” (True story. A member shared this situation with us this week) but an employee missing their cousin’s wedding probably would take a toll on morale, and if they come to work and are just thinking about that thrown bouquet that they can’t catch, they may be exhibiting presenteeism.

Increasing access to paid sick days reduces health care costs, with evidence showing that when workers have paid sick days such costs go down and the health of workers improves. Hard to be snarky on this one. It’s true, you want your sick employees to stay home and get better rather than work and extend their recovery time and the likelihood of infecting others.

California employers can sincerely be relieved that the legislation did not deem it necessary to completely change the whole process. The way it stands now, accrual rates will still be one hour for every 30 worked, maximum accruals are still two times the annual allowance, and if you front-load you are just switching out 40 hours for 24.

San Diego has not announced any plans to increase the city’s Paid Sick Leave mandate to exceed California’s offering.

If you have any questions about Paid Sick Leave, options for providing it, and/or approved uses for PSL, give us a call. 858-505-0024.

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Contact us: 858.505.0024