January 16, 2018

Sick and Family Leave Updates: California, Maryland, New York, Washington (article)

Following are summaries of updates to paid sick leave laws in the states of California, New York and Washington, and in the local jurisdictions of San Francisco and Prince George County, Maryland.


  • State-wide Unpaid Parental Leave. As a reminder, beginning January 1, 2018, small employers employing at least 20 employees in the state of California are required to provide their employees up to 12 weeks of job protected, unpaid parental leave.  For a summary of this law, see the November Benefit Beat article, Parental Leave Comes to Small Employers in California.  This law must be coordinated with other existing state laws such as the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, the Paid Family Leave Law, as well as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  It is also important to note that these state-wide leave law(s) must be coordinated with any local paid or unpaid sick and family leave laws in the cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Monica.
  • City of San Francisco – Updated Workplace Postings.  The San Francisco Office of Labor Enforcement (OLE) administers several employment-related ordinances including the Health Care Security Ordinance, the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance and the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance.  Each of these laws require a specific workplace posting to advise employees of their rights. These postings have been updated and should be used by affected employers beginning January 1, 2018:

Maryland:  Prince George County

On December 12, 2017, Prince George County Council passed the Earned Safe Leave law which requires eligible employees to accrue and use paid leave for absences connected with events resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.  Important to note that this law does not require employers to provide sick leave. This law becomes effective on May 24, 2018.

For purposes of this law:

  • Employer is defined as any person or entity operating and doing business within the Prince George County boundaries who employs 15 or more persons within the County, in addition to the owners.  The law also applies to the County government, but does not apply to any federal, state, or other local government.
  • An employee entitled to accrued paid leave is any person working for an employer in the County. Employee does not include individuals under the age of 18, or independent contractors.

Reasons for leave.  Leave may be taken for medical attention for a physical or psychological injury, victim advocacy services, legal services, or relocation services due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the employee or the employee’s family member.  For purposes of this law, a family member includes a child or parent (whether biological, adopted, foster, or step), spouse, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.

Accrual and carryover.  Eligible employees are entitled to accrue at least one hour of safe leave for every 30 hours worked in the County, up to 40 hours in a calendar year. Carryover of up to 40 hours must be allowed, though an employer can limit usage to no more than 64 hours in a calendar year.   Alternatively, an employer may frontload the full amount of safe leave at the beginning of each calendar year.

The law includes both employee and employer notification requirements:

  • An employee is required to request safe leave as soon as practicable.  The individual must also comply with the employer’s reasonable notice procedures, and notify the employer of the absence’s anticipated duration, if known.  An employer could deny leave if the employee fails to provide notice, or the absence would cause a disruption to the employer.

Employers cannot require employees to disclose details of the mental or physical illness, injury, or condition of the employee or family member when requesting leave. If an employee uses more than three consecutive days of leave, an employer may require the employee to provide reasonable documentation to verify leave was used for a covered purpose. An employer must allow an employee to use leave in the smallest amount of time tracked by the employer’s payroll system provided such increment is not more than one hour.

  • Employers are required to notify employees of their right to safe leave including a statement about how leave is accrued, the permitted uses of leave, the prohibition of employment related retaliation, and the right to file a complaint. Notice may be given by posting the notice in a conspicuous and accessible area at each work location, in an employee handbook, or distributing the notice when an employee is hired. In addition, employers must also provide a written statement with the amount of available leave with each paycheck.

Record retention.  Employers are required to keep records for at least three years of each employee's accrual and use of leave.

New York Paid Family Leave:  More Compliance Tools Released

As a reminder, the New York Paid Family Leave law took effect on January 1, 2018.  This law requires private employers in New York to provide paid family leave benefits to their eligible employees.  For a summary of the paid family leave law, see our August, September and November Benefit Beat articles.  Employers subject to this law are required to provide information to employees about their paid family leave rights, either in an employee handbook or other written materials. To assist in this process, the State’s Workers’ Compensation Board recently released two additional documents:

1.       Model Language for Employee Materials.  While this document provides a useful starting point for developing a workplace policy, it is still incumbent upon the employer to tailor the language of the policy to the employer’s particular circumstances. Note, in particular, that the appendix provides guidance on design choices that employers may have.

2.       A Statement of Rights for Paid Family Leave must be provided to employees whenever they take paid qualifying family leave, or in the event an individual takes time off from work for a paid family leave event but had not requested the leave.

Washington.  The state of Washington enacted a paid sick leave law (Initiative 1433) in the fall of 2016.  For a summary of this law, see The Paid Sick Leave Crazy Quilt Continues to Grow (Benefit Beat, 12/7/16).  The law requires an employer to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked by its employees beginning January 1, 2018. 

To assist in implementing the law, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries issued final rules on October 25, 2017. The Department established a dedicated webpage of Employer Resources to assist employers in meeting their obligations.  Specifically, the Department has developed model notices that employer could customize and make available to employees for purposes of requesting leave, sample workplace policies and posting, fact sheets to provide to employees, as well as training and webinar resources for employers.

Important to note that this state-wide law must be coordinated with any applicable local jurisdiction that has paid sick leave laws within the state, such as Seattle and Tacoma.  The paid sick leave law in Spokane sunset on December 31, 2017; thus, employers doing business in this jurisdiction will follow the state-wide paid sick leave law beginning January 1, 2018.  

The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein. 

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