25 Mar New California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
I know you’re probably thinking, here we go again! That’s right. If you are an employer with 26 or more employees, this applies to you. On March 19, 2021 Governor Newsom signed SB 95 bringing back required supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related absences, along with some changes.
Employers must begin providing this new paid leave beginning March 29. It is also retroactive to January 1, 2021 and will extend until September 30, 2021. Retroactive means that if you had employees out for any reason covered under the new law between January 1, 2021 and March 28, 2021 and you did not pay them, you will have to go back and calculate supplemental paid sick leave owed and pay them “upon oral or written request of the employee”. The employee must initiate the retroactive payment by submitting an oral or written request. The payment must be paid on or before the payday for the next full pay period. You may qualify for FFCRA tax credits for doing so.
Amount of Leave
Full-time employees who work at least 40 hours per week on average are entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave. Other employees are entitled to the average amount of hours they normally work over a 14-day period. If an employee works a varying schedule, they’re entitled to hours equal to 14 times the average number of hours the employee worked each day in the prior six months, or over the total time of employment if less than six months.
Employers must provide supplemental paid sick leave for employees that are unable to work or telework due to any of the following reasons:
- Subject to quarantine or isolation order or guidelines due to COVID-19;
- Advised to self-quarantine by heath care provider;
- Attending COVID-19 vaccine appointment;
- Experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
- Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis;
- Caring for a family member who is subject to quarantine, or has been advised to self-quarantine;
- Caring for a child whose school or childcare is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.
Separate from Sick Leave on Wage Statement
The COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave provides a fresh bank of paid leave. It is a separate entitlement from other paid sick leave provided by the employer, and must be listed separately on the written notice or wage statement provided to employees. Employers cannot require an employee to use other paid or unpaid leaves before the employee uses COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.
Amount of Pay
Employees get their regular pay during leave, up to a maximum of $511 per day, and $5,110 total.
Employers are required to provide notice to employees informing them of their rights to supplemental paid sick leave under the new law by March 29. The Labor Commissioner created this model notice model notice that employers may use for this purpose. Other languages will likely come soon.
Here are some helpful FAQs regarding the new law.
In addition to the new SB 95, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021 extends and resets the FFCRA after its expiration on March 31. FFCRA (which includes emergency paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave) is still optional -employers are not required to provide paid leave, but if they choose to they will receive payroll tax credits for doing so until September 30, 2021. There are additional changes to FFCRA under ARPA, but I don’t want to complicate this more than it already is!
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to discuss.