In 2023, California passed a law (Senate Bill 616) that grants employees 5 paid sick days each year. SB616 amends Labor Code Section 246, which had previously provided for only 3 paid sick days. The new law, effective 1/1/24, resulted from extended negotiations between various interest groups and represents a compromise from the original proposal by worker advocates for 7 paid sick days.
Businesses, particularly smaller ones, have expressed concerns about the potential financial burden SB616 could impose, especially for those still recovering from pandemic impacts and inflation challenges. This apprehension was shared by various pro-business groups. The California Chamber of Commerce labelled SB616 a “job killer”.
Despite being only the second state in the country to offer paid sick leave, California still offers fewer sick days than 15 other states and even several of its own cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and Berkeley.
California Governor Gavin Newsom’s has stated his signing of SB616 underscores his ongoing commitment to ensuring workers don’t have to choose between health and financial stability.
California employees should check their paystubs to ensure their available sick pay balance is accurately stated at all times, as required by California Labor Code Section 246. If a worker takes a sick day and the employer denies their request for sick pay, the worker would be entitled to sick pay and penalties and should consider filing a wage claim.