California Supreme Court Unanimous in Affirming “Kin Care” for Employees

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Ruling mandates sick leave rules apply only in cases which companies offer a specific amount of sick leave accrual, not to situations with uncapped leave time.

“The unanimous California Supreme Court decision in McCarther vs. Pacific Telesis Group is a common sense decision for California employers that helps keep California businesses competitive,” said Mark Wilbur, President and CEO of Employers Group.

On February 18, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the California state labor code which provides for an employee to care for an ill family member is limited to a measurable, banked amount of sick leave provided by employers.

Section 233 of the California State Labor Code was enacted in 1999 and provides for the following:
“Any employer who provides sick leave … shall permit an employee to use in any calendar year the employee's accrued and available sick leave entitlement, in an amount not less than the sick leave that would be accrued during six months at the employee's then rate of entitlement, to attend to an illness of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner of the employee.”

At issue were sick leave provisions in AT&T, Inc’s collective bargaining agreements that articulated the following:
“All employees with at least one (1) year of service shall be paid for sickness absence beginning with the first scheduled working day of absence. Sickness absence payments shall be limited to a maximum of five (5) days in the seven-day period.”

As an employee returned to work after the described sickness absence, the employee would again be eligible for an additional sickness absence payment of 5-days without an annual or other cap in place.

In his unanimous opinion, Justice Moreno indicated that the kin care law was not intended to provide for a benefit far greater than if an individual was personally ill. The plain intent of the law was to allow an employee half of their accrued leave for the care of relatives.

“The unanimous California Supreme Court decision in McCarther vs. Pacific Telesis Group is a common sense decision for California employers that helps keep California businesses competitive,” said Mark Wilbur, President and CEO of Employers Group. “The Employers Group Legal Committee was prominently active in this case through the participation of legal committee members Paul Cane of Paul Hastings and Theresa O’Laughlin of AT & T. Employers Group and the Employers Group Legal Committee is committed to ensuring a fair and reasonable application of employment law regulations that in turn creates and preserves jobs for all business." (McCarther v. Pacific Telesis Group et al., S164692.) (A115223; 163 Cal.App.4th 176; Superior Court of Alameda County; RG05219163.)

About Employers Group
Employers Group, a California-based human resources expert and advocate, serves employers nationwide by delivering human resources solutions to its members. Originally founded in Los Angeles as the Merchant’s and Manufacturers Association in 1896, the organization has moved from serving the interests of just California employers to helping companies across the globe mitigate risk, cut costs, and advocate for employer rights. Employers Group provides a member helpline with day-to-day guidance about employment laws and regulations, professional development, consulting projects, and compensation and workplace trends surveys. It is the “voice” for businesses in both the judicial system the California Legislature and Congress, advocating for employers every step of the way; thus, thousands of employers have come to rely on Employers Group for "everything HR," freeing them to do what they do best to grow their businesses. For more information, visit http://www.EmployersGroup.com.

CONTACT: Nicole Vierzba
Employers Group, 213-765-3913

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