Can one be billed for un-accrued sick leave voluntarily paid in advance by an employer?

I began work in Aug. 2014 as a full-time, credentialed teacher for a California
school district.

I went on approved medical leave in October 2014. The district paid me the
previously agreed-upon amount through Jan. of 2015, deducting for subs as
necessary. Later that year, they began aggressively billing me for sick leave I
had not yet accrued but which they VOLUNTARILY paid to me during the leave.

I resigned in Feb. 2015 due to medical reasons related directly to the Med.
leave.

They now claim I ‘owe back’ the sick leave to them, in the amount of about
1,000. This is billed as ‘Negative Sick Leave balance owed’. I don’t recall
anything in my contract that provided for this.

Under CA Labor law, there is ‘no requirement for an employer to advance sick
leave to an employee before it is accrued’ AB 1522, AB 304, Paid Sick Leave
Law.

Is it within their rights to bill me for this sick leave they voluntairly paid
to me?

Asked on March 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you understood, or were given reason to understand, that you would have to repay the money if you left before earning out the advanced sick leave, you would have to pay; it is legally no different than your employer advancing you your next paycheck if you tell them you need money now, or advancing a salesman a draw against future commissions. So if there was any reason you could be expected to have known that by using the leave, you'd have to repay it, they could recome the monetary equivalent of the lease from you.
But if you had no reason to know this would be the case, a strong argument can be made that you never agreed to repay it and therefore, in this case, it is like receiving a bonus--it is a windfall amount, voluntarily given by your employer, which the employee does not need to repay. The critical issue then is what you knew, what you were told, and whether there was some resource available to you (like an employment manuel) which would have put on notice on the need to repay.


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