Covid-19 Sick Leave is Back!

California Legislature reinstated the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave benefits which had previously expired on September 30, 2021.

This bill is retroactive to January 1, 2022 and applies until September 30, 2022.

There are some differences from the previous regulations. Here is a rundown of the current COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

Covered Employers

COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave applies to employers that employ more than 25 employees. But a reminder, even though this bill does not apply to employers with less than 26 employees, under Cal/OSHA regulations employers who employ less than 26 employees are still required to pay exclusion pay to employees who miss work due to workplace related COVID-19 exposure.

Covered Employees

Covered employees are those that cannot work or telework for the following reasons:

1) The covered employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period as required under an order or guidance (e.g., California Department of Public Health, CDC, local public health officer).

2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.

3) The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a vaccine or a vaccine booster for protection against COVID-19.

4) The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.

Note: Employers may limit the amount of time taken for vaccine/booster purposes (including symptoms) to three days or 24 hours unless the employee provides supporting medical certification for longer time.

5) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

6) The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an isolation or quarantine order, or guidance as described, or who has been advised to isolate or quarantine by a health care provider.

7) 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.

Additional COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave hours.

Covered employees are also entitled to additional COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, up to 40 hours, if an employee or an employee’s family member for whom the employee cares for, tested positive for COVID-19.

The employer has no obligation to provide this additional COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for an employee who refuses to provide documentation of the results of their test upon the request of the employer.

Additionally, the employer may require that the employee provide documentation of that family member’s test results before paying the additional leave.

Calculating the hourly amount of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

A covered employee is entitled to 40 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, if the covered employee satisfies either of the following criteria:

  • The employer considers the covered employee to work full time.
  • The covered employee worked or was scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per week for the employer in the two weeks preceding the date the covered employee took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

For an employee who works less than 40 hours, the employee would generally be entitled to COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave hours based on the total number of hours the covered employee is normally scheduled to work for the employer over one week.

Calculating the compensation amount of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave 

For nonexempt employees, each hour of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is calculated by one of two ways:

  • at a rate equal to the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses paid sick time, whether or not the employee actually works overtime in that workweek; or
  • by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total non-overtime hours worked within the prior 90 days of employment.

For exempt employees, COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is calculated in the same manner as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave time.

Notwithstanding the calculation methods and amount of leave, employers are not required to pay more than $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

Retroactive Payments

Employers are required to issue retroactive payments to employees who took leave for a covered reason since January 1, 2022, upon written or verbal request by an employee. The retroactive payment must be paid “on or before the payday for the next full pay period after the oral or written request of the covered employee.”

Notice to Employees of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

The Labor Commissioner will publicly make available a model notice within seven days after the enactment of this bill. Employers must post this notice for their employees. Only for purposes of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, if an employer’s covered employees do not frequent a workplace, the employer may satisfy the notice by disseminating the notice through electronic means, such as by e-mail.

California Mask Mandate News

Additionally, Governor Newsom announced on Monday February 7th that the mask mandate will expire as planned on February 15th for those who are vaccinated. Unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors.

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