Oakland’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

As of March 2, 2015, all Oakland employees are entitled to paid sick leave. The November, 2014 ballot initiative titled “Measure FF” was overwhelmingly approved by Oakland voters. The initiative also included a new minimum wage of $12.25 per hour and requires that hospitality workers be paid the entirety of any service charges that are charged to a customer. Any employee who works within the geographic boundaries of the City of Oakland and who works a minimum of two hours per week is covered by the new law.

Oakland’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

To be in compliance with the new law, City of Oakland employers must offer paid sick leave to employees regardless of their part-time, full-time, or temporary status. Employees must work at least two (2) hours per week and within the geographic boundaries of the City of Oakland to get the benefit of the new law. If an employee meets these requirements, Oakland employers must provide the following:

Accrual of Paid Sick Leave

All Oakland employees are entitle to accrue one (1) paid hour of sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked. Sick leave is based on one (1) hour increments. Fractions of an hour do not count towards accrual of sick leave. An employee’s accrued paid sick leave must carry over from year to year. Although employees are not entitled to payment for unused, accrued sick leave upon separation from employment, they can’t lose it if they don’t use it.

Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees must offer at least 5 days (40 hours) of paid sick leave. Larger businesses with 10 employees or more must offer 9 days (72 hours) of paid sick leave. Any employer may choose whether or not to go beyond the minimum requirements and provide more accrued paid sick leave hours.

Employees Hired After March 2, 2015

Employees hired after March 2, 2015 begin to accrue paid sick leave after ninety (90) calendar days of employment.

Usability of Paid Sick Leave

One of the most attractive benefits of the new Oakland Paid Sick Leave law is its flexibility. Under the old law, employees were required to use their paid sick leave for their own medical needs and illness when necessary. Under the new law, employees may use their accrued paid sick leave for their own medical care or they may use it for the purpose of caring for immediate or extended family members.

In instances where an employee is not married or does not have a domestic partner, the employee must be given a window of ten days after the first hour of sick leave is accrued to designate a person whom he or she may use paid sick leave in order to provide care for that person. This ten day window must be provided on an annual basis and shall include the opportunity to change a previously made designation.

It is important to remember that paid sick leave can only be paid out if the employee needs medical care themselves or to aid a family member or designated person who is in need of medical care. Paid sick leave cannot be paid out to an employee for any reason other than those stated above.

Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer applauds Oakland voters for voting for these important new policies and is proud to represent employees in Oakland and throughout the Bay Area.