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What Can I Use My Paid Sick Time For?


In California, employees can use paid sick time for several different reasons that go beyond keeping germs away from their coworkers.

State law requires employers to provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave for each employee every year. Whether you are a part-time or full-time employee doesn’t matter: You are guaranteed at least three days’ worth of sick time that accrues at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.

Reasons for Using Paid Sick Time

Employees must inform their employers when they intend to use sick time and employers are generally allowed to ask employees about their reasons for taking sick leave.

Under California law, you can take sick leave for the following reasons:

  • You need to treat an existing health condition (for yourself or a family member)
  • You’re seeking preventative care or a diagnosis (for yourself or a family member)
  • You are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Your employer can ask you questions about any illness or condition not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means you also don’t have to offer any information about a condition or illness covered by the ADA. If your reason for sick leave is relevant to ADA protections, you can inform your employer of this, and questions about your reason to take sick leave should cease.

Using Paid Sick Time Incrementally

People often talk about sick time in terms of “days,” but the law specifically affords employees up to 24 hours that can be used incrementally. This means that you don’t have to use a full eight hours of your sick time if you only need to use an hour or two.

Compensation for Paid Sick Time

When a non-exempt employee takes sick time, they must be paid their normal rate for the number of sick hours they use. Habitual overtime is not taken into account, so an employee only earns what a normal day’s pay would be without overtime when they use a full sick day.

Nonexempt employees’ pay is calculated by dividing their total wages (excluding overtime) by the number of hours the employee worked in the full pay periods within the previous 90 days.

We Can Help with Paid Sick Time Violations

If you believe you are a victim of a violation involving paid sick time, K2 Employment Law can help. Our experienced lawyers understand the relatively recent changes in California law that may apply to you. If we believe we can help you fight for damages, we’ll let you know what your legal options are.

Schedule a FREE initial consultation with K2 Employment Law when you contact us online.