You have asked, "One of our hourly non-exempt non-union manufacturing workers who has been employed in our California warehouse for over a year asked to use four hours as paid sick leave for a physical. I told him that he cannot just take four hours off and we do not provide paid sick time. The employee told me that was illegal. Is that true?"
Based on the facts, it appears to be a violation of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. All employees who work at least 30 days for the same employer within a year in California, including part-time, per diem, and temporary employees, are covered by this California law with some specific exceptions, that do not appear to apply here.
Generally, the law requires employers to provide and allow employees to use at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave per year and caps accruals at 48 hours.
However, at least seven California cities have enacted their own paid sick leave ordinances, offering employees in those cities even more paid sick leave than the California law. Those cities include: San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Berkeley, so it is important to make sure that you comply with these local ordinances also.
Under California's paid sick leave law, employees can take paid sick leave for themselves or a family member, for preventive care or diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition; preventive care includes annual physicals. The employee may decide how much paid sick leave he or she wants to use (for example, whether you want to take an entire day, or only part of a day). The employer can require the employee to take a minimum of at least two hours of paid sick leave at a time, but otherwise the determination of how much time is needed is left to the employee. Retaliation against an employee for exercising his/her rights is also against the law. In these situations, we counsel and updating your written policies and processes to ensure compliance going forward.