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Forms of Protected Time Off in California

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson will review the forms of protected time off in California. Paid Sick Leave, Kin Care, and Pregnancy Disability leave will be discussed along with the 11 additional protected labor leave laws that are less well known.

California - The Worker-Friendly State

So you've decided to relocate and accept a job in California. Congratulations! California is one of the most employee-friendly states. California not only offers employees one of the highest minimum wages in the country, it also has legal mandates for numerous other employee benefits. One of the benefits extended to workers in California are 14 different forms of protected time off.

Let's take a look at these protected forms of time off so that you are aware of them prior to starting your new position.

Paid Sick Leave, Kin Care, and Pregnancy Disability Leave

California has legal protections in place that are specific to paid sick leave, kin care, and pregnancy disability leave.

Paid Sick Leave

The Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 requires that all California employees, including full-time, part-time, or temporary employees, start accruing paid sick leave time if they work at least 30 days or more in one calendar year. The specified rate of accrual for sick time is one hour for every 30 hours an employee works. Employees must be permitted to start using paid sick leave benefits on the 90th day of employment.

Kin Care

The California Labor Code allows employees to use Kin Care benefits to care for a sick child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. The benefit also allows time off for preventative care, such as taking a child to the doctor for a physical. Employees are allowed to use a minimum of one-half of their accrued annual sick leave for these purposes.

Pregnancy Disability Leave

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides California workers with unpaid, protected time off for a maximum four month period, in the event they are unable to perform their duties due to pregnancy complications or childbirth. It's important to note that if an organization provides more than a four month leave period for other types of disabilities, this must also be offered to individuals on pregnancy leave.

Voting Leave

All employees in the State of California are entitled up to two hours of paid time off to vote in statewide elections. Employers are to post notice of upcoming statewide elections in the workplace a minimum of 10 days prior to upcoming elections. Employers are required to provide these paid time off benefits only if an employee's work schedule does not allow them time to vote during non-working hours.

Jury Duty and Court Attendance Leave, Crime Victims Leave, and Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

There are three types of protected time off requirements related to jury duty and court attendance or legal filings. They include:

  1. Jury Duty and Court Attendance Leave - California Labor Law states that employees are entitled to take time off for jury duty or to answer a summons to appear in a court of law. California state law does not require this leave to be paid except for exempt employees who are attending proceedings during a time they would be expected to work.
  2. Crime Victims Leave - Employees who have been victims of a serious or violent felony must be granted unpaid time off in order to appear at court proceedings. Crime victims leave also applies to an employee's immediate family member, registered domestic partner, or child of a registered domestic partner.
  3. Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking - Unpaid time off must be granted to employees who fall victim to these acts so that they can seek medical treatment, restraining orders, get victim relief services, obtain psychological counseling, or enter a domestic violence shelter.

Organ Donor/Bone Marrow Donor Leave

Employees who have used all of their sick leave benefits must be allowed to take a paid leave of absence for up to 30 days for organ donation and up to five days for bone marrow donations.

Family Crisis Leave

Employees are entitled to take a family crisis leave and use up their leave plan benefits in urgent family crisis situations that can include matters related to child custody, divorce, conflict management counseling or other matters that require immediate personal attention.

Volunteer Civil Service/Emergency Responder Leave

Unpaid time off must be granted to employees who perform emergency duties outside of their regular employment such as serving as reserve law enforcement aids or volunteer firefighters. In addition, up to 14 days per year must be granted to volunteers in civil service or emergency response to attend professional development training.

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