On March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill 95 expanding existing paid sick leave benefits under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Existing law provided for COVID-19 paid sick leave until December 31, 2020. The newly passed legislation – applied retroactively to January 1, 2021 – is intended to extend coverage beyond the December expiration date through September 30, 2021.
Employers with 25 or more employees will be required to begin providing supplemental paid sick leave beginning March 29, 2021. Expanding existing qualifications, SB 95 now requires supplemental paid sick leave be provided to employees unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:
- The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidelines of the CDPH, DCD, or who has been advised to self-quarantine.
- Family member includes: spouse; registered domestic partner; grandparent; grandchild; sibling; child regardless of age or dependency status including biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis; and a parent, including biological, adoptive, foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or employee’s spouse or domestic partner, or person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child.
- 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.
Employers are required to provide eligible full-time workers 80 hours of paid leave for the reasons listed above. Part-time workers and those working a variable schedule will be entitled paid leave calculated using a formula set out in the law. Employers subject to federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act supplement paid sick leave provisions, who opted to extend leave beyond the December 31, 2021, expiration date, can credit leave already provided towards SB 95 COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirements.
Two important aspects immediately impacting employers are the bill’s retroactive payment requirement and its wage statement provision.
- Any workers who took unpaid sick leave from January 1, 2021, through the present for any qualifying reason are entitled to retroactive pay.
- Employers must include – separately - the amounts of paid sick leave available on the employee’s wage statement for both regular paid sick and COVID-19 supplement paid leave amounts. Paid sick leave amounts must be added to employee wage statements by the next full pay period following the date SB 95 takes effect (March 29, 2021).
More guidance is expected in the coming days and weeks to assist with questions concerning COVID-19 compensation already provided pursuant to Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) and the employer's duty to provide retroactive pay. The full text of SB 95 can be found here.
 SB 95 takes effect 10 days after being signed into law. The bill was signed by Gov. Newsom on March 19, 2021.
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