What You Need to Know about California’s New Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

A man in an undershirt and shorts sits with his head resting in his hand solemnly

Just when you thought you had seen the last of the COVID-19 related legislation, California passes another paid sick leave law. In the article below, MMC aims to explain the requirements and application of this new law going forward.

First things first – who does this new requirement apply to? This new law applies to all public and private employers with more than 25 employees and provides an additional 80 hours of COVID sick leave for full time employees. For both full and part-time employees, please refer to the Labor Commissioner’s FAQ for guidance on how to calculate the rate of leave. As you are undoubtedly aware, the prior federal legislation (Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or “FFCRA”) which expired on December 31, 2020, applied to employers with less than 500 employees; similarly, the previous CA sick leave legislation also expired at the end of last year and applied to all employers with 500 or more employees, as well as all healthcare and emergency responder employees.

This new law applies to all employees of a covered employer, regardless of length of service, which means an employee who started working for a covered employer is entitled to this leave on day 1. Additionally, this law covers all employees who cannot work or telework due to the reasons below; it also significantly expands the reasons an employee may take COVID-related sick leave from the reasons under FFCRA or the previous CA COVID sick pay legislation. The first two qualifying reasons to take the sick leave somewhat mirror the reasons in previous legislation:

  1. Employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period*[1] relating to COVID-19;
  2. Employee is advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19;

The following are the newly expanded qualifying reasons in the new legislation:

  1. Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  2. Employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 prevention;
  3. Employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine and is prevented from working or teleworking;
  4. Employee is caring for a family member (child of any age, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling) who is subject to a quarantine or isolation period or who has been advised to self-quarantine; OR
  5. Employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for COVID-19 related reasons.

One of the most important features in this new legislation is the retroactivity – the law is retroactive to January 1, 2021. This means if a covered employee took leave sometime between January 1 and March 29, 2021 (the effective date of this legislation), the employee may make a written or oral request to the employer to provide them retroactive payment for the time off.

This law also contains a notice and paystub requirement – covered employers must post the notice advising employees of their rights under this law in a high-traffic area at the worksite. Similarly, the supplemental sick leave must be reflected on itemized wage statements and must be indicated separately from regular paid sick leave.

As always, MMC is here to assist with interpreting these new laws and requirements. Please feel free to contact a member of our HR Services team to learn how this may apply to your organization.

[1] Per the CA Labor Commissioner FAQ: “The quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 is the period as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer…”