The initial federal coronavirus relief legislation – effective between April 19, 2020 and December 31, 2020 – required employers with more than 500 nationwide employees to provide food service workers with mandatory COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL). The State codified and extended this requirement in §§ 248 and 248.1 of the California Labor Code, but these benefits ended on December 31, 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic did not.
Governor Newsom recently signed SB95 in response to the continuing health crisis. This updated legislation – codified in Cal. Labor Code §§ 248.2 and 248.3 – revives and greatly expands California COVID-19 SPSL.
Employees Eligible for California SPSL
On March 29, 2021, California employers with more than 25 employees must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to eligible employees, including those working remotely. Qualifying employees – excluding certain employees covered by collective bargaining agreements – include anyone:
- Taking time to receive the COVID-19 vaccination
- Experiencing significant symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine
- Subject to state, local, or federal isolation or quarantine orders
- In isolation/quarantine as recommended by a healthcare provider
- Experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking medical care
- Caring for a child or dependent whose school/care facility is closed due to COVID-19
- Caring for a close family member diagnosed with COVID-19
Not only must employers provide these benefits in addition to paid sick leave, but they must also do so retroactive to January 1, 2021. This retroactive applicability means employers must provide back pay to eligible employees, for example, those who missed work to receive the vaccine in February. Failure to abide by these requirements could result in up to $4,000 in administrative penalties per employee.
Calculating an Employee's Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Payments
Covered employers must compensate eligible employees at their usual rate for up to two weeks of missed work (with an 80-hour maximum). Employees taking COVID-19 related leave might receive up to 80 hours of benefits if they worked at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks preceding the qualifying event and were scheduled to do so going forward. The same rule applies to part-time employees or those with variable schedules. Part-time regular employees (staff working 15 hours per week) could receive up to 30 hours of California SPSL benefits. Employees with alternating schedules might receive up to 14 times their average daily work hours calculated over the last six months (if applicable).
Get Help Complying with California's New Retroactive Sick Leave Laws
Do not let the above eligibility requirements and calculations overwhelm you. The qualified wage and labor lawyers at Centurion Trial Attorneys can help California business owners comply with these new COVID-19 regulations and avoid expensive administrative penalties. If you need help, connect with us online.