Employee Benefits Compliance, State-Specific Information

Clarifications to California’s Paid Leave Law for Organ and Bone Marrow Donors

Governor Brown recently signed Senate Bill 272 , which amends California Labor Code section 1510 by making the following clarifications (effective immediately) to California’s existing Paid Leave Law for organ and bone marrow donors:
  • Business days, not calendar days, are to be used in complying with the existing requirement to provide 5 days of paid leave for bone marrow donors and 30 days of paid leave for organ donors;
  • The one-year measurement period within which the paid leave is required does not begin anew each January 1, but instead begins for each employee as of the date the employee first takes paid donor leave;
  • Donor leave cannot be treated as a break in continuous service for the purpose of paid time off. Existing law already prohibits treating donor leave as a break in service for purposes of salary adjustments, sick leave, vacation leave, annual leave or seniority.
  • ”Paid time off” is added to the list of accrued but unused types of leave an employer can require an employee to use before receiving paid donor leave. Thus, an employer can now require employees to use up to five days of accrued but unused sick leave, vacation leave, or paid time off or up to two weeks of same for organ donation.
S.B. 272 states that it is “declaratory of existing law,” which means it is effective upon enactment. Gov. Brown signed the bill on August 1, 2011.


Since January 1, 2011, California Paid Donor Leave requirements have applied to employers who have at least 15 employees in California. The law requires an employer not only to continue to pay regular compensation during the leave, but also to continue to make its regular contributions toward the cost of group health coverage for the employee (and family, if enrolled). Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employees for taking such leave. Donor leave may be taken intermittently or as one continuous leave. The paid donor leave entitlement is separate from, and not concurrent with, any leave entitlement under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). See Leavitt’s Benefits Compliance Bulletin dated March 1, 2011 for additional background information. Click here.

Next Steps for Employers

  • Update leave policies and benefits policies to make sure they are in compliance with the new requirements and clarifications
  • Update leave request forms
  • Train supervisors and manager about the new clarifications
Contact your Leavitt benefits consultant if you need assistance.