New Cure For Sick Time – Amended California Paid Sick Leave Law

Since 2015, the state of California revised the sick time policies and rights for employees. Problem is the City has not caught up with the practice and too many of our EAA members are still being punished under old rules.

That means revising the Administrative Code, Living Wage Ordinance and every Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). That also means that the City must adhere to the new rules while these important documents are revised and approved by the City Council.

However, some Personnel staff is stuck on the old rule, and refuse to acknowledge the revised version, which is illegal, and they make disciplinary decisions accordingly.

For instance, formerly management had the right to require a doctor’s note on the first day of illness, and that translates into getting out of your sickbed to visit with a physician. We find that counter-intuitive. For me, when I’m sick nothing is getting me out of the bed, and I’ll just “man up” and get a day of rest and medication and see how I feel the next day.

The new policy is that management cannot demand a doctor’s note until the sixth day of the absence due to illness (formerly the third day). 

Now there’s a bigger problem: our members have been disciplined for violations of the old rule, while management ignores the new rules.

That’s like demanding a poll tax to vote after the Voting Rights Act was passed. Enforcing an outdated rule is unfair, and claiming that the Administrative Code is currently being revised doesn’t mean management can enforce the rules they want. They must follow the rules as the law demands.

Thus, once the rules are finally confirmed by the City Council, your union, and others, will probably demand that every sick-time violation prosecuted by management since 2015 will have to be reviewed for compliance with the 2015 law, with the expectation that our members who were improperly disciplined or had to ay back money will have their cases reviewed and potentially reimbursed. Stay tuned.

Some other elements of the 2015 law are also important to know, as follows:

  • Sick time is accrued on the first day of employment, one sick day awarded per month up to a total of 96 hours annually;
  • Use of accrued sick days starts on day 90 (three months)
  • If a City employee leaves the City and returns with a year, their accrued sick time is restored
  • Remove the use of Compensated Personal Time Off (CPTO) for sick leave

It’s frustrating talking with Personnel about enforcing an old rule. They communicate as if they don’t understand basic civics (In fact, we once had to initiate a grievance just to get the Personnel Analyst to agree that the Administrative Code prevails when the MOU is silent. It took three months of the grievance process?!) So we end up engaging in what amounts to a circular argument causing the process to suffer for waste of time and resources. 

Your union devotes thousands of hours adjudicating cases. Whether it be a grievance or an investigation, time is valuable when one has a stack of member issues to process, or a long list of calls to make to resolve an issue without engaging the grievance process.

Know that EAA staff monitors new developments with an eye as to how this may affect our 5,200 members’ rights, compensations, benefits, and working conditions, and we offer zealous advocacy on your behalf. 

– Geoffrey Garfield, Former EAA Labor Representative