If you are sick or if a loved one falls ill and you need to care for him or her, California law is on your side. Employers must, under most circumstances, provide employees with sick leave. What that means for you is discussed below via common questions that our clients often ask, like

  • What is California's Law on Sick Pay?
  • Are There Any Exceptions to California's Law on Sick Pay?
  • What Can Sick Leave Be Used for in Los Angeles?
  • 4. Does an Employer Have to Pay Out Sick Leave upon Resignation, Termination, Retirement, or Other Separation from employment?
  • How are Sick Leave Laws in Los Angeles Enforced?
  • What Happens If an Employer in Los Angeles Doesn't Let You Take Sick Leave?
  • Can You Sue an Employer if It Denies You Sick Pay?

At Sirmabekian Law Firm, we know the tricks employers use to deny their employees’ sick pay. If you believe your employer has somehow violated your rights as an employee, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.


California law requires employers to pay employees sick leave when those employees have worked at least 30 days within a year of their employment start date. For example, if an employee started a job on February 1, 2020, and as of April 30, 2020, worked at least 30 days, that employee is owed paid sick leave.

Counties and cities may have more specific rules employers must follow. According to the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance, paid sick leave is required and must be provided to all employees when they:

  • work at least two hours in any given week
  • for the same employer
  • for 30 days or more within a year
  • in the City of Los Angeles.

Paid sick leave is available for:

  • full-time workers
  • part-time workers
  • temporary workers.

There are some exceptions or restrictions for some employees. Those employees who may have different rules applied with regard to sick leave include workers who:

  • are air carriers;
  • have a collective bargaining agreement; or
  • are in-home supportive service providers.


Employees can accrue sick leave. According to the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance, employees are entitled to sick leave per one of two methods:

  • the accrual method in which one hour of paid sick leave is accrued by an employee for every 30 hours worked. Accrual will begin on the first day an individual is employed; or
  • the front-loading method where the employee is entitled to a minimum of 48 hours at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period. (To note, the 48 hours could be 24 hours of sick leave and 24 hours of vacation time so long as the total is a minimum of 48 hours.)

In addition, any accrued and unused sick leave should carry over to the following year of employment. Employers, however, can cap the carryover to 72 hours, but they can also choose not to have a cap or to set a higher cap.

Further, an employer can limit an employee’s use of paid sick leave to 48 hours annually.

An employee may use paid sick leave starting on the 90th day of employment. Sick leave is not reserved only for the employee’s own illness; paid sick leave can be used to care for:

  • themselves;
  • family members (e.g., child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling); or
  • any individual related by blood or affinity.

An employee must request sick leave in writing or orally. Paid sick leave can be used for:

  • preventative care;
  • diagnosis of an existing health condition;
  • care of an existing health condition;
  • treatment of an existing health condition; or

specified purposes of a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

According to the City of Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance, an employer does not have to compensate an employee for unused or accrued sick leave when he or she:

  • is terminated;
  • resigns;
  • retires; or
  • otherwise separates from the employer.

There is one exception. If the employee separates from the employer but is rehired within a year from the separation date by the same employer in Los Angeles, sick leave that had previously been unused or accrued must be reinstated.

Each employer in Los Angeles must provide notice and post requirements of the Minimum Wage Ordinance where it is visible to all employees in the workplace or job site. The notice must be provided in English as well as in any other language spoken by at least five percent of the employees.

If an employer fails to post the notice outlining sick time benefits in accordance with Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) § 188.03(A), the employer can be fined up to $500 pursuant to LAMC § 188.08(B). That may seem insignificant, but each and every day the violation exists amounts to a separate and distinct violation. For example, if an employer fails to post the notice for 10 days, the total fine could be up to $5,000.

Plus, the employer could be fined for related violations, like failure to post Notices of Correction to employees or for retaliating against employees for exercising their rights (the latter violation is a fine of up to $1000 for each distinct and separate violation).

As an employee, you have the right to paid sick leave, this includes getting the minimum amount of paid sick leave, getting paid for sick leave you used, and allowing you to take sick leave for lawful purposes. If the employer fails to do any of the matters, you have options which include:

  1. completing and submitting a Complaint Form to the Office of Wage Standards Ordinance; or
  2. bringing a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction  against the employer pursuant to LAMC § 188.07(B)

The City of Los Angeles allows complainants to remain anonymous except where compelled by law or authorized by the employee or person reporting the violation.

Further, the employer, if the complainant’s identity is made known, cannot retaliate. Retaliation may take the form of demotion, threats to terminate your position, reduced pay, or wrongful termination. If the employer does, the complainant has the right to sue for additional damages. Damages can include:

  • back pay
  • interest on back pay
  • payment for sick days that were withheld
  • liquidated damages for wrongfully withholding sick days (up to $4,000)
  • reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.


If you believe your right to accrue or take paid sick leave has been violated in Los Angeles, contact Sirmabekian Law Firm today at 818-473-5003. It’s in your best interest to make sure your rights as an employee are upheld.

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