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Clearing Up California’s Sick Leave Laws: Rollover vs Lump Sum

Posted by Jessica Eastman on October 29, 2019

Many practice owners have questions about whether or not sick leave or sick days need to be paid to their employees and how to go about doing this. While this topic can be complex, you don’t need to stress because we have broken it down into just what you need to know to follow sick leave laws in California.

Are Sick Days Required to be Paid?

Under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, California employers are required to provide their employees with at least 48 hours or 3 work day equivalents* of paid sick leave per year once the employee has worked over 30 calendar days. While you are required to pay your employees within these parameters, the method that works best for your practice for carrying that out is up to you. Here are some options:

Rollover (a.k.a. Per Hour Accrual)

Per California law, your employees need to have 3 work days or 48 hours* – whichever is greater – of sick leave banked. If you are providing sick leave to your employees based upon the Per Hour Accrual Method, then you need to award 1 hour of leave time for every 30 hours worked. Then at the end of the year, you must ensure that each employee is able to roll over 48 hours’ worth of sick leave if they have this time remaining.

How it May Look for Your Team: If your employee has accrued 60 sick leave hours over the course of the year, you would rollover only 48 of those hours to the next calendar year. If they have accrued less than 48 hours, all of it would rollover.

Advantages: Extremely accurate accrual as a reflection of service hours. Employees will only receive sick leave hours as they work.

Pitfalls: Tracking can be difficult.

Lump Sum (a.k.a. Annual Accrual)

Your other option is to use the Lump Sum Method in which the 48 hours is awarded up front. In this case, you do not have to carry over any sick leave, so an employee’s accrued hours at the end of the year that have not been used are considered “lost” hours.

How it May Look for Your Team: If your employee has 12 hours of sick leave left at the end of the year, all of it would be lost. They would start the new calendar year with 48 hours.

Advantages: Easy to track and you can implement a use it or lose it policy.

Pitfalls: “Use it or lose it” policy can create a need to use sick leave, part-time employees can take an extended period of time off in contrast to working very few hours. 

*More About Paid Sick Leave

While this information is helpful for determining sick leave requirements at the California state level, your practice may be subject to additional sick leave laws if located in a municipality such as San Francisco, Emeryville, Oakland, San Diego, or Los Angeles. If this seems daunting, don’t worry! Did you know that we at HR for Health monitor all of the specific laws and regulations that affect your practice? Simply open a support ticket with us today titled “Sick leave” and our specialists will be happy to answer any questions about this and bring you up to speed on what kind of policy you need for your specific practice.


Did you know that at HR for Health monitor all the specific laws and regulations that affect your practice? If you have questions about sick leave or any other compliance questions, please reach out to us and SCHEDULE A CALL, or call: 877.779.4747, or email: today!


HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. HR for Health has provided the following complimentary articles to ensure you have a game plan when addressing complex HR matters.



Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services

Topics: sick leave, california

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