If you have more than 25 employees in California, now is the time to start preparing for the new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Provisions
California Senate Bill 114---providing many employees COVID-19-related supplemental paid sick leave for 2022---is headed to Governor’s Newsom’s desk for his signature. Ten days after he signs it, the new provisions will be in effect, so employers should take steps now to get up to speed on the requirements.
The new supplemental paid sick leave provisions affect companies in California who have more than 25 employees. Smaller businesses are exempt from the requirements.
Those employers subject to the requirements will need to update their wage statements to show COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave separately from paid sick days starting with the next full pay period after the law takes effect. Employers will need to affirmative list zero hours used if a worker has not yet used any COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
Those employers will also need to post an updated notice about paid sick leave that refers to the new COVID-related provision. The Labor Commissioner will make a model notice available soon, and we will be sure to email it to this same client list once it is available.
When will employees be entitled to use this new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave?
For those working for employers with at least 25 employees, full time employees will have 40 hours of paid leave available to use when they have COVID-19 symptoms or are caring for a family member with COVID-19 or a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19. They will also have up to three days/24 hours of paid sick leave to use to attend vaccine or booster shot appointments for themselves or family members and dealing with any symptoms related to those shots unless a medical provider certifies a need for longer time to deal with such symptoms. Those working less than full time or on a variable schedule will receive seven times the average number of hours such employees worked in the last six months or since starting work. If an employee qualifies for this COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave in his or her first week of work for a new employer, that employee is entitled to receive the same number of hours of paid sick leave as he or she has worked for the new employer.
Employees can receive up to another 40 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if they or a family member they are caring for tests positive for COVID-19. If the employee tests positive, an employer may require the employee to submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day after the positive test and provide the results. The employer is required to pay for this test, but in such a situation, if the employee tests negative in that day 5 test, the employee can return to work under Cal/OSHA’s current guidelines.
How much COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave will employers have to provide?
Between January 1-September 30, 2022, employees working for employers subject to these requirements are entitled to a maximum of 80 hours of this supplemental paid sick leave. The amount due is the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $511 per day ($63.88 per hour).
What about employees who were off work for COVID-related reasons since January 1st?
This COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave is retroactive to the beginning of the calendar year. If a covered employer did not pay an employee for COVID-related time off work this year, the employer is now required to provide the covered employee with a retroactive payment for it upon the employee’s oral or written request. On the other hand, if the employer paid such an employee using other paid leave available (regular paid sick leave, vacation, and/or PTO time), the employer must credit those leave hours back and re-allocate them as COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave upon the employee’s request. This retroactive payment or re-allocation shall be paid on or before the payday for the next full pay period after the employee requests it.
Because these will involve some retroactive changes to many employers’ payroll runs and to upcoming wage statements for employees, California employers with more than 25 employees would be wise to start making implementation plans now. To discuss further, please contact Sarah Evans or one of the attorneys you work with at Schwartz Semerdjian.