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The New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On March 19, 2021, the Governor signed SB 95. COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

Employers must start providing this new leave on March 29, 2021.

The new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave applies to all employers with more than 25 employees. You must provide notice to your employees of this new sick leave by March 29, 2021. Here is a link to the Labor Commissioner’s model notice.  model notice

The new California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave expires on September 30, 2021.

Please refer to the California Labor Commissioner’s COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave FAQs.

Employee Eligibility

All employees working for covered employers are eligible for leave. SB 95 increases the number of qualifying reasons for which employees can take leave. Now, employees may take paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework because they are:

  1. Subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace.
  2. Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
  3. Attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  4. Experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
  5. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  6. Caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidelines or who has been advised to self-quarantine.
  7. Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed for COVID-19 reasons.

Employers cannot request a medical certification before granting COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. Employees are entitled to take leave immediately upon their request.

Leave Amounts

Full-time employees are eligible for 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

Part-time employees are eligible for an amount of leave equal to the number of hours they are normally scheduled to work in two weeks. If an employee works a varying schedule, they are 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.

Rate of Pay

For nonexempt employees, employers must pay the highest of the following rates:

  • Rate calculated in the same manner as the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, whether or not the employee actually works overtime in that workweek.
  • Rate calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.
  • The state minimum wage.
  • The local minimum wage to which the employee is entitled.

For exempt employees, the rate of pay must be calculated in the same manner that the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave.

The amount of pay is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 total per employee.

Leave Interactions

SB 95 provides a fresh bank of paid leave, in addition to already existing paid sick leave under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families law. Employers cannot require an employee to use other paid or unpaid leaves before the employee uses COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

Notice and Wage Statements

Employers are required to provide notice to their employees informing them of their rights to supplemental paid sick leave under the new law. The Labor Commissioner created a model noticethat employers may use for this purpose. Employers may download the posters and distribute as appropriate, including sending the notice electronically to employees who are telecommuting. Employers need to provide notice before March 29, 2021.

Additionally, the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave must be reflected on employees’ wage statements. The new law specifies that the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave must be set forth separately from other paid sick days. For employees with part-time or variable schedules, the law allows employers to do an initial calculation of leave time available with the notation “variable” next to it. Employers must still provide updated calculations when employees request to use their COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

 

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