The California Legislature just approved a measure that dramatically extends and expands a requirement for employers to provide supplemental paid sick leave to employees impacted by COVID-19.
A new COVID-19 sick leave law will go into effect Monday, March 29, 2021 covering California employers of 25 or more. The new law is similar (but not identical) to the federal FFCRA, which provided COVID-19-related paid sick leave through the end of 2020. The new law is in effect through September 30, 2021.
What do employers need to know?
The new law provides paid leave at the regular rate of pay if an employee is unable to work or telework because:
- The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period as defined by the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control, or applicable local health authority;
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
- The employee is attending an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms related to getting the COVID-19 vaccine;
- The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a public health quarantine or isolation period or who has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider; or
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or child-care provider is closed or unavailable for COVID-19 related reasons.
- Full-time employees (defined as working 40 hours/week or “considered by employer to work full-time”) receive 80 hours of the new leave. Part-time or variable hour employees receive a number of hours related to their schedules.
The law is retroactive to January 1, 2021. Any unpaid leave taken for qualifying reasons must be paid “on or before the payday for the next full pay period” after an employee makes an oral or written request for it. Similarly, if paid leave was deducted from another leave bank, those hours must be restored and deducted against the COVID-19 sick leave bank.
NOTE: Employers who already provide(d) COVID-19 specific supplemental paid sick leave for leave taken after January 1, 2021 that is available for the same reasons and paid at the same rate may count those hours towards the supplemental paid sick leave obligation.
The amount of COVID-19 sick leave available must be reflected on the employee’s wage statement, separately from regular paid sick leave.
The employer must provide notice to employees of their rights under this new law. The Labor Commissioner will create a model notice to be used for this purpose.
You may want to review the text of the measure for details on calculating the number of hours your employees are entitled to receive and how to calculate their rate of pay for the leave time. Note that in-home care providers are subject to special rules.