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Although California's new sick leave law doesn't go into effect until July 1, it is recommended that every small business owner consult with their legal counsel long before that date to ensure compliance. The requirements are new and businesses need to update employee handbooks and leave policies, as well as implement new record keeping practices.

Even though the law takes effect in July, employers had to post the notice of this benefit starting on Jan. 1.

Beginning on July 1, California employers must provide employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Employees can begin using their paid sick days on the 90th day of their employment for their own health condition, a family member's health condition and, if the employee is a victim of domestic assault, sexual violence, and/or stalking. "Family member" includes spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling, even though grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings are not considered family members under the California Family Rights Act.

All private employers are covered by the law, except for some unionized and government work forces, as well as employees covered by collective bargaining agreements if those agreements meet certain requirements. California workers performing at least 30 days of work in a year will earn paid sick leave. Full time workers will have earned their 24 hours of sick leave at the end of 24 weeks of full time employment.

Employers can limit an employee's use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment and are not required to pay out accrued unused sick leave at time of termination.

Employees can accrue hours, but employers may limit total accrual to 48 hours, or six days. Employers cannot discriminate, retaliate or take an adverse employment action against employees who request and/or use paid sick days. Such actions will be considered retaliation. Employers can request reasonable advance notice of leave.