Labor Commissioner FAQ Ties Paid Sick Time Off to Work Day Length

David Leporiere

I understand that the state is now requiring employers to provide more time off for paid sick leave than it did in previous years. My employees work an alternative workweek consisting of four 10-hour shifts per week. How many hours of paid sick leave must I allow my employees to use each year?

You are correct that beginning January 1, 2024, California state law requires additional time off for paid sick leave. Last year, the California Legislature passed SB 616. That bill amended the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 by increasing the time off for paid sick leave from 24 hours or 3 days, to 40 hours or 5 days.

The amount of time off required can be found in California Labor Code Section 246, which contains the language requiring employers to provide “40 hours or 5 days” of paid time off.

The California Labor Commissioner (which oversees the paid sick leave law in California) has made it clear that this phrase means that the employee is entitled to the greater of either the 40 hours or 5 days of time off. In its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from December 21, 2023, the Labor Commissioner’s office addressed your specific question.

In FAQ number 2, the Labor Commissioner states that if an employee works 10-hour days, under the new law, the employee would be entitled to use 50 hours of paid sick leave per year.

However, if an employee works only 6 hours per day, that employee still would be entitled to use 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

If you have any further questions regarding the new paid sick leave law, review the Paid Sick Leave section in the HR Library on the HRCalifornia website.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at