The Dish on Paid Time Off

How will a new requirement to offer PTO impact local employers?

Back Article Jan 1, 2015 By Lucia Ruiz

New legislation mandates California businesses to provide paid sick days to employees who do not already have access to paid time off. The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (Assembly Bill 1522) was signed by Gov. Brown in September, making California the second state to implement statewide paid sick leave, following Connecticut.

The law, effective July 1 of this year, will entitle employees who have worked in California for 30 days or more paid sick leave for themselves or for a family member within a year from the start of employment. Employees are entitled to one hour for every 30 hours worked, but the employer may limit the use of sick days to 24 hours. Employees can accrue paid sick days to the next year, and accrued days can be reinstated if the employee is separated from the employer and rehired within one year. AB 1522 does not provide exemptions for small businesses or government employers.

Proponents of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act include California Work and Family Coalition, Health Officers Association of California and California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO (a co-sponsor of the bill). They highlight the positive impact and long-term wellness benefits for employees who have access to PTO, saying it will benefit the 40 percent of Californians who do not already have the benefit.

Lizbeth West, shareholder at Weintraub Tobin, says this bill will also benefit employees who already receive PTO by allowing them to take “paid sick days for reasons that employers may not otherwise have designated.”

But the food-service industry has particular concerns about the bill. Chris Jarosz, a Sacramento restaurateur and president of the California Restaurant Association’s Sacramento chapter, says restaurants, unlike other types of employers, are being forced to “double the cost of an employee’s day off, because we have to pay a replacement to cover the shift. For a restaurant, it creates a huge extra expense.

“All of us in the hospitality industry value our employees and want to take care of our people,” he says, “but in this case it makes it very hard on us.”

Other opponents of the bill include the California Chamber of Commerce and California Employment Law Council. These groups maintain an alternative to mandatory PTO should be implemented, saying the law should incentivize PTO and reduce costs for employers in other areas in order to make paid sick leave more affordable for businesses.

The bill does not cover union workers, employees in the construction industry, providers of in-home supportive services and individuals employed by an air carrier, such as a flight deck or crew member.

Let us know what you think of AB 1522. Take our poll, or sound off in the comments:


Matt (not verified)January 16, 2015 - 4:30pm

As a severely underpaid, benefit less, minimum wage employee, this would be so helpful. Any time I have to take off from my workplace is taken out of my paycheck, no matter what the reason including doctors appointments and sick days(on a good note I was just hired on at the state for triple my salary and have less than two weeks left here!). It's hard enough to live,grow, and progress on minimum wage without having to lose income because of an unavoidable illness. You really count the workdays when missing even one makes you have to choose which bill to pay next month or which flavor of ramen you can afford until the next paycheck. Your work may suffer as well which results in loss of revenue for the company as well as yourself. As a former chef, I agree with the food service arguments because I know how much just one person not showing up can throw off the whole operation. A lot of smaller restaurants may not even have a second dedicated person who even works the same position as the staff who has taken a sick day. Most line cooks are cross trained but they do not normally work certain stations and may not be as good at said station which can lose the company revenue with sent back dishes and bad word of mouth. There is a second side to that story however(in my experience). It seems like most of the "sick days" taken in the restaurant business are no more than a result of partying too hard the night before. If someone is legitimately sick or contagious then yes it shouldn't be a problem.


The technician downstairs in your building!

Recommended For You


Sound Off on AB 1522

Paid sick leave for all — yea or nay?

Effective July 1 of this year, employees who have worked in California for 30 days or more will be entitled to paid sick leave. Is this a leap forward for workers’ rights, or will it mean death for small businesses? Tell us what you think:

Unfortunately, you cannot participate in this poll, because your browser is not enabled for Javascript and/or cookies.
Jan 1, 2015

Food for Thought

Acuity with Chris Jarosz

Chris Jarosz is the founder of Broderick Restaurant & Bar and co-owner of the Wicked ‘Wich food truck. This year, he also took on the overhaul of midtown’s Capital Dime restaurant and its sister eatery, Trick Pony, which have been folded into the Broderick Roadhouse family of restaurants. It’s not all glamorous, but it is pretty tasty.

Dec 15, 2014 Christine Calvin
(illustration: Lily Therens)

Pan’s Problems

Push for state contracting legislation fizzles

In May we reported on efforts by Assemblyman Richard Pan, who represents the 9th district covering parts of Sacramento and San Joaquin counties, to curb outsourcing of government projects to the private sector (“Relationship Troubles,” by Russell Nichols, May 2014). Assembly Bill 906, which required all personal service contracts to be approved by the Legislature, went into effect last January. At the time of our story, Pan had proposed an additional package of bills: AB 1574, 1575 and 1578.

Here’s a look at how the bills have progressed:

Nov 3, 2014 Allison Joy