On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Bill (SB 95) into law, ensuring further protections for employees who are forced to take COVID-19 related leave. With the expiration of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act at the end of 2020, California workers were again forced to choose between their wages or their health. Now, California employers (defined as those who employ more than 25 employees) must provide up to 2 weeks of fully paid sick leave (up to $511 /day) when the employee cannot work or telework for the following reasons:
- The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by the State Department of Public Health, the CDC, or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace;
- The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The employee is attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for a family member who was instructed by the State Department of Public Health, the CDC, a local health officer, or a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19;
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.
Although the law takes effect on March 29, 2021, the law will apply retroactively, meaning an employee can request sick leave pay for leave taken for any of the above reasons after January 1, 2021. For example, if you took leave in early January because your healthcare provider advised to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, you can now ask your employer to pay for up to 2 weeks of leave.
Generally, full time employees may receive up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, while part-time employees may receive an amount of leave correlating with the number of hours the employee regularly works over 2 weeks. If an employee requests retroactive sick leave pay, the employer must pay the employee during the employee’s next pay period. Additionally, an employer generally cannot require the employee to use other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off, or vacation time before the employee uses COVID-19 supplemental paid leave. The labor commissioner must enforce this supplemental paid sick leave in the same manner it enforces “paid sick days,” “paid sick leave,” or “sick leave’ under existing law.
This law, which will remain in effect until September 30, 2021, ensures full protection for California Workers through the seemingly short remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.