Sick Time Can be Used to Care for Spouse
by Patrick E. Turner
Employee Rights Attorney
Mission Viejo, California
Q: Can you please provide more information on using up to one half of one’s paid sick leave to care for a sick wife based on a new law?
A: “The law you’re referencing is California Labor Code section 233, which was added by statute in 1999 and amended in 2001,” says employee rights attorney Patrick E. Turner of Don D. Sessions Law Corp., Mission Viejo. “Under the provisions of this statute, an employer must permit employees to use half of their accrued sick time to ‘attend to an illness of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner of the employee.’ Unlike California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA), which provides up to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave but requires a minimum number of employees at an employer, there’s no minimum number of employees referenced in this statute. Use of leave under this Labor Code section will not extend the maximum period of leave to which an employee is entitled under CFRA, so the use of this sick time runs concurrently.
“The same conditions and restrictions to using sick leave for the employee’s own illness will apply to the use of sick leave for the care of a family member. For example, if the employer requires doctor certification for absences in excess of three days, the employer can also require a similar doctor certification of the family member’s illness.
“Any employee who is terminated, threatened with termination, demoted, suspended, or in any other manner discriminated against from suing or attempting to use sick time for the care of a family member consistent with this statute, can file a complaint (with the state or sue).”
“There are two main types of pension plans-a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan. Both involve employer funding. It is not permissible to deny service accruals and salary credits to employees over age 65.
“An employer can limit the number of years of service or participation required in the pension plan but cannot base the limitations on a participant’s age. You need to look at the specific terms and conditions of the retirement plan to determine if employer contributions are limited by a permissible reason.
“Collecting a retirement pension income while actively working in the same job for the same employer would be inconsistent with general retirement principles. Some types of work, such as teaching, permit limited continued employment after retirement. Normally, you are not allowed to work full time for the same employer after you retire.”