COVID-19 Alert: New Sick Leave Law Enacted
California recently passed a new COVID related item (SB 95) bringing back an additional Supplemental Paid Sick Leave effective March 29th. Any employer with twenty five or more employees are required to provide a new bank of eighty additional hours of sick pay to employees (if part time, it's based on a prorated basis). It is effective March 29th, 2021, however, the coverage date is January 1, 2021 through September 30th, 2021.
It has also expanded its eligibility reasons. According to DIR, the expanded reasons include:
1. Caring for Yourself: The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace, has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
2. Caring for a Family Member: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation period or has been advised by a healthcare provided to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
3. Vaccine-Related: The covered employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms.
A few items to note:
-This bill is retroactive, so upon "written or oral request", the employee may request to be paid for any time used between January 1st up to March 29th. Any unpaid leave taken prior to March 29th for a qualifying reason must be paid for the time taken no later than one pay period after request. If an employee used paid leave from another leave bank, it should be restored and counted against the 80 hours of supplemental sick leave bank.
- The COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave must be reflected on the employees’ wage statements. The new law specifies that the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave must be shown separately from other paid sick days.
-If an employer has already provided an employee with supplemental paid leave after January 1st, 2021 for any qualified reasons in accordance with this new law, this time can be counted towards the new bank as long as it is within the requirements set forth by DIR. (Example: A local ordinance required additional COVID sick pay AND it meets the requirements of the new law)
-Employers cannot require a medical certification before granting COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. Employees are entitled to take leave immediately upon their request. The leave is not conditioned on a medical certification.
-Employers are required to notify employees of their rights under this law. DIR has created a document for employers to post for this purpose:
It is recommended that any employer should direct themselves to DIR's website for full details and consult legal counsel with any uncertainties regarding implementation of this leave or retroactively paying employees.