California has earned a reputation as being a very employee-friendly state. State lawmakers have passed progressive laws that protect workers in many different situations.
Workers have more rights in California than they do in states only covered by federal employment laws. Understanding some of the ways that California laws deviate from federal laws can help you advocate for yourself and your co-workers.
What are some of the extra protections that California workers have?
The right to paid sick leave
Federal law only creates a right for unpaid leave in specific circumstances, and many workers can’t afford to take unpaid leave from their jobs anyway. Workers who are sick have to either go to work or sacrifice their income and possibly job security.
However, California state law requires that employers provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. They also need to allow workers to use at least 24 hours or three workdays of sick time in a year.
Enhanced overtime rules
Federal law only requires overtime pay of 150% of someone’s average hourly wage when workers put in more than 40 hours in a seven-day period. That rule applies in California, and California law creates more situations where workers get overtime pay.
These include when workers have to work more than eight hours in a shift or when they work seven days in a row without a day off. Workers subject to extremely long shifts may even have the right to double their average hourly wage.
Better unpaid leave rules
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for themselves or family member due to health issues. California law extends many of the same rights that apply to smaller businesses that federal law does.
There only needs to be five employees for a California employer to offer unpaid leave. California law also recognizes the need to care for family members other than a spouse, child or parent. You can take leave for grandparents, grandchildren, stepchildren and siblings.