On March 19, 2021, a new COVID-19 paid sick leave law was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, which allows California employees to receive up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave, in addition to regular paid sick leave, if they need to take time off for:
- Self-isolation or self-quarantine;
- Dealing with COVID-19 symptoms;
- Appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine;
- Dealing with side effects, if any, of the COVID-19 vaccines;
- Caring for family in self-isolation or self-quarantine; and
- Care for a child whose place of care or school is not available due to COVID-19.
The new law—Senate Bill (SB) 95—is only applicable to those workers who work for businesses that employ 26 or more people and certain public entities. It does not cover rideshare drivers.
Under the new law, a full-time employee (or an employee who has worked on average 40 or more hours per week in the two weeks before leave is taken) is entitled to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. Part-time employees with a normal weekly schedule is entitled to the total number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work for the employer over two weeks. Part-time employees with variable hours are entitled to 14 times the average number of hours worked day for the last six months before taking leave. The employer cannot require a covered employee to use any other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off, or vacation time before, or in lieu of, the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
In 2020, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First Act”) which provided leave protections and wage replacement benefits for workers during COVID-19. Around the same time, California also enacted a COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave which allowed employees of companies with 500 or more employees to take approximately two weeks of paid sick leave due to COVID-19. Those supplemental paid leave programs ended on December 31, 2020, which left some employees with only three days of paid sick leave and eight weeks of paid family leave per year.
This new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law covers that gap, as it is retroactive to January 1, 2021. So, if any employee has taken any unpaid leave for any of the qualifying reasons, that employee is entitled to reimbursement. The employee should make an oral or written request to the employer and the employer must issue the reimbursement payment on or before the payday for the next pay period. The new supplemental paid sick leave law will expire on September 30, 2021.
If you have questions regarding legal issues arising from the ongoing pandemic, you may contact the Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force online or call us at 415-788-9000.
*The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Employers and employees should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP. Any links contained in this article are only for the convenience of the reader, and do not constitute recommendations or endorsements of the contents of the third-party sites.