New California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law

California state legislature passed SB 95, which creates a new and more expansive supplemental paid sick leave law for COVID-related leaves.  The bill applies retroactively to January 1, 2021, when the previous supplemental paid sick leave law expired. This is classified as emergency legislation, so it will go into effect 10 days after being signed by the governor, which he is expected to do.

There are some key differences between the new law and the prior law. The terms of the new law are summarized below; where they change from the prior law, they are noted.

  • The law applies to public or private employers with 25 or more employees.  (Prior law applied to those with 500 or more nationwide.)
  • Applies to both employees who cannot work or telework for one of the qualifying reasons.  (Prior law did not apply to remote employees or those who could telework.)
  • Applies for the following seven qualifying reasons:
    1. The worker is subject to a quarantine or isolation “period” related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines by the state, the CDC, or local public health authorities).  (Some of these quarantine/isolation periods conflict, so the law states that this applies to the shortest one in the event of such a conflict.)
    2. The worker is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19;
    3. The employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19;
    4. The employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work;
    5. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
    6. The employee is caring for a family member (minor or adult child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling) who is subject to a quarantine or isolation period, or who has been advised to self-quarantine; or
    7. The employee is caring for a child (regardless of age) whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.
  • The law provides for 80 hours of paid sick leave for full time employees (a formula is available for calculating the amount of available leave for employees who work fewer hours or an irregular schedule) who take leave for one of the qualifying reasons above.  This is a new bank of leave, so if an employee took leave under the prior supplemental paid sick leave law, they have not exhausted it for purposes of this one—they get a full 80 hours.  
  • Employees must exhaust this leave first before using other paid leave, such as regular paid sick leave or PTO.  However, this leave may apply toward any paid leave provided by employers under the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards, which require pay continuation during a mandatory quarantine period following a workplace exposure.
  • Paid sick leave must be itemized on the employee’s pay stub, separate from the other paid sick leave bank that is already required to be included.
  • If an employer provided supplemental paid sick leave or paid leave for one of the qualified reasons above between January 1, 2021 and the date this law goes into effect (for example, paid employees to stay home during a quarantine period under the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards or under an employer’s own policy), that may be counted against this new bank of leave.  However, they may not do this if the employer required an employee to use their normal paid sick leave.
  • If an employee took leave for a qualifying reason between January 1, 20201 and now but was not paid, an employer must make a retroactive payment upon the oral or written request of an employee.
  • The Labor Commissioner will create and disseminate a model notice, which must be provided to employees.

The Bill expires on September 30, 2021, though employees who are on leave at the time of the expiration must be allowed to complete their paid leave.

Full language of the bill can be found here. 

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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