Employers with more than 25 employees must provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to their California employees under a recent law signed by the Governor. This new law is broader than California’s prior COVID-19 paid sick leave law and, unlike the prior law, also covers employees who telework. The new sick leave entitlement is retroactive to January 1, 2021 and extends until September 30, 2021.
Who Must Provide Supplemental Paid Sick Leave?
SB 95 covers all employers with more than 25 employees. California’s prior COVID-19 sick leave law (Assembly Bill 1867) expired on December 31, 2020 and applied only to private businesses with 500 or more employees.
Who Is Eligible for Supplemental Paid Sick Leave?
SB 95 applies to all California employees who are unable to work or telework for a covered employer. Unlike AB 1867, coverage under SB 95 is no longer limited to employees who were required to leave their homes to perform in-person work for an employer. Under the new law, coverage now extends to teleworkers as well.
Employees are entitled to supplemental paid sick leave if they are unable to work due to any of the following reasons:
- The covered employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19. The covered employee will be permitted to use COVID-19 sick leave for the minimum quarantine or isolation period under the federal, state, or local order/guidelines that provide for the longest such minimum period.
- The covered employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The covered employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19.
- The covered employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
- The covered employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The covered employee is caring for a family member (1) who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19, or (2) who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The covered 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.
Notably, covered employees are entitled to take COVID-19 sick leave for a broader range of purposes than permitted under the previous law. For instance, covered employees are now entitled to take leave in connection with attending an appointment to receive a vaccine, as well as to recover from symptoms related to taking the vaccine. Also, the law now provides for sick leave to care for family members, which include a child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling.
How Much Leave Is An Employee Entitled To?
Covered employees are entitled to leave as follows:
- Employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave if their employer considers them “full time” or if they were scheduled to or did work on average at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks preceding the date of the leave.
Employees who are not full-time or did not average 40 hours as described above are entitled to the following amounts of leave:
- Employees with a normal weekly schedule are entitled to leave equal to the total number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work over two weeks.
- Employees who work a variable number of hours are entitled to leave equaling 14 times the average number of hours the employee worked each day in the six months preceding the date the employee took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. For employees who have worked for an employer for fewer than six months but more than 14 days, this calculation must be made over the entire period the covered employee has worked for the employer. If the employee has worked for the employer 14 days or fewer, then the leave entitlement shall equal the total number of hours the covered employee has worked for that employer.
- Employees who work a variable number of hours and have worked for a period of 14 or fewer days are entitled to leave equaling the total number of hours the employee has worked for that employer.