California’s COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Restored

Covid sick leave

Newsom resumes California’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirements.

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 114, which adds §§ 248.6 and 248.7 to the state’s Labor Code. The legislation reestablishes the state’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirements.

The Initial COVID Sick Leave Law Expired

When the state’s first supplemental paid sick leave law expired, California’s Legislature passed Senate Bill 95, a new COVID-19 paid sick leave requirement applying to private employers with 25 or more employees. But that law expired on September 30, 2021. The state was left with only a mix of local supplemental paid sick leave laws in cities like Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland.

As a result, California had no statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirement until the new bill was enacted.

Details of the New Law

The new law is in effect now until September 30, 2022. It provides COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for covered employees who aren’t able to work or telework because of COVID-19. The reasons include getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster for themselves or someone in their family, if they have COVID-related symptoms, or if they’re taking care of a family member with COVID-related symptoms related to a vaccine or booster.

A covered employee would get up to 40 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if he or she works full time or was scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per week for the employer in the two weeks before the date they took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

In addition to using the time to get a vaccine for themselves or for a family member or recover from vaccine-related symptoms, the employee can use the time to quarantine or isolate, see a doctor for a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms, or to take care of a child in the event that there’s a school or daycare closure because of COVID-19.

Paid sick leave for the vaccine-related reasons is limited to up to three days or 24 hours of paid leave per vaccination, unless the employee provides verification from a healthcare provider that more time is needed.

The bill has another calculation for supplemental paid sick leave for a covered employee who’s a firefighter subject to certain work schedule requirements and for a covered employee who works less or variable hours. In this category, paid leave can only be used to recover from a positive case of COVID-19 or to care for a family member who tests positive. California employers are allowed to require workers to provide documentation of their own positive COVID-19 test or one from the family member to qualify. In addition, an employer can require the employee to be tested again five days after the original test at the employer’s expense.

Employees are able to use the paid leave in the two categories in any order. They don’t have to use up one category before using the other. Moreover, it’s the employee’s decision whether he or she wants to use supplemental COVID sick pay for the absence.

The Amount of Leave

For each of the two categories of COVID-19 leave, the amount of leave is based on the total number of hours they’re usually scheduled to work in a week:

  • Full-time employees are allowed up to 40 hours of leave for each category;
  • Employees with a normal weekly schedule of fewer than 40 hours are entitled to the total number of hours they’re usually scheduled to work in a week; and
  • Employees who don’t have a regular weekly schedule get seven times the average number of hours the covered employee worked each day in the six months before the date that the covered employee took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
  • Employees who’ve only worked for one week or less can have the total number of hours they’ve worked.

New Retroactive to January 1

If an employee took time off because of COVID-19 between January 1, 2022 and February 19, 2022, he or she can request retroactive paid supplemental sick leave. The employer has to pay no later than the next full pay period after the request was made.

Employer Notice Requirements

Senate Bill 114 also requires some written notice requirements for employers, including providing notice either on the employee’s wage statement or through another writing about the supplemental paid sick leave.

The law requires that the employer give notice of the amount of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave that the employee has used. If he or she hasn’t used any supplemental paid sick leave, the employer is still required to provide written notice to the employee that he or she hasn’t used any hours of the leave.

Bottom Line

SB 114 applies to employers with 26 or more employees, and the total amount of supplemental paid sick leave that an employer must provide is limited to $511 per day or $5,110 total.