California Employees Receive Two More Weeks of Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave
On March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law S.B. 95, which requires covered California employers to provide qualifying employees with up to 80 additional hours of COVID-19-related paid sick leave through September 30, 2021, upon oral or written request by the employee. The new state law, which goes into effect beginning March 29, 2021, applies to all California employers with more than 25 employees. Some of the more notable features of the new state law include:
Establishing a new “bank” of 80 hours of COVID-19-related supplemental paid sick leave for covered employees
Expanding the qualifying reasons for COVID-19-related sick leave under state law, including the addition of a COVID-19 vaccination appointment and recovery from COVID-19 vaccination-related symptoms as qualifying reasons for leave
Requiring employers to provide employees with notice of their rights to expanded COVID-19-related leave
Providing special COVID-19-related leave for providers of in-home supportive services and waiver personal care services
Authorizing retroactive payments to employees who took unpaid leave for qualifying COVID-19-related reasons on or after January 1, 2021
The provisions of the new state law providing for retroactive payments to employees who took qualifying leave on or after January 1, 2021 are likely to cause problems for employers, who may find it difficult to question employee requests for such retroactive payments in the absence of detailed record-keeping that memorialized these employees’ stated reasons for having taken leave. However, employers should note that they are not required to make such retroactive payments unless and until they receive an oral or written request from a covered employee.
Additionally, employers should note that SB 95 allows for employers to offset any COVID-19 related leave provided to employees on or after January 1, 2021 that was payable for the same reasons and at the same rate as provided in SB 95.