By now, most employers should be aware of the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Family Act which went into effect in 2015.  Under California law, all employers (with very few exceptions), must allow employees to use up to 3 days or 24 hours of paid sick leave in a 12-month period.  However, what many employers do not know is that several cities within the State of California have their own paid sick leave requirements, many of them more stringent than those required under the state law.

As of January 2019, the following cities have their own separate paid sick leave laws, some with requirements that differ from state law: Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles (city), Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Monica.[1]  Some of these city-specific laws contain provisions that are different than or conflict with the requirements under California law.  Employers must adopt the provisions which are more favorable to the employee.  For example, under state law, employees can be limited to using 3 days or 24 hours of paid sick leave in a 12-month period.  However, the paid sick leave law in the City of Emeryville does not contain an annual use cap and, as such, employers with employees working in Emeryville cannot limit the number of paid sick leave hours their employees use in a 12-month period.[2]

Typically, for an employee to qualify under a city-specific paid sick leave law, the employee must work in that city for two hours in a calendar week, and meet other requirements as specified by that city’s paid sick leave law.  For example, to qualify under Emeryville’s sick leave law, employees must work in that city for at least two hours in a calendar week and be entitled to minimum wage.  To qualify under San Diego’s sick leave law, employees must work in the city for at least two hours in a calendar week, be entitled to minimum wage or participate in a state Welfare-to-Work program.  Employers who have employees operating in any or all of these cities, may need to modify their paid sick leave or paid time off policies so as to meet the requirements of both the California state law and the law of the cities in which their employees work.  Moreover, employers with employees operating in multiple cities throughout the state may need to administer different policies to employees based on which city the employee works in.


[1] Additionally, hotel workers in the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach are also subject to paid sick leave provisions that differ from the California law.

[2] The Emeryville law does contain a limit on yearly accrual.