The California legislature passed SB 95 on March 19, 2021, and the governor signed the law on March 20th.  The new law, which provides supplemental paid sick leave to employees working for employers with 25 or more employees, took effect on April 1, 2021.  Here are the key facts you need to know:
  1. This bill provides supplemental sick leave to employees who are unable to work for certain reasons related to COVID. Those reasons are:
    1. The employee is subject to a quarantine order;
    2. The employee has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider;
    3. The employee is attending a vaccine appointment;
    4. The employee is experiencing symptoms related to the vaccine;
    5. The employee is experiencing COVID symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis;
    6. The employee is caring for a family member that must quarantine; or
    7. The employee is caring for a child due to a school closure caused by COVID.
  2. The law only applies to employers with 25 or more employees.
  3. If the employee qualifies for the new COVID leave, they are entitled to:
    1. 80 hours of sick time if the employee works full time; or
    2. The normally scheduled hours the employee works over a two-week period; or
    3. If the employee works a variable schedule, 14 times the average number of hours the employee worked each day in the preceding six months.
  4. This supplemental sick pay is in addition to any other sick leave offered by the employer.
  5. This sick pay is paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay but no more than $511 per day and $5,110 in total.
  6. An employer cannot require an employee to use other sick time, PTO, or vacation time in lieu of COVID sick leave.
  7. COVID sick leave must be set forth on the employees’ wage statements separate for regular sick leave.
  8. The state has provided a notice that must be posted. You can find that notice here.
  9. The state has created a FAQ cite, which you can find here.
  10. The law applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. Therefore, if someone took a qualifying leave between 1/1/21 and March 31, 2021, you must reinstate any vacation or other leave they took in lieu of COVID supplemental sick leave. If the employee was not compensated for this sick time then, upon the employee’s request, they must be compensated consistent with this law.
  11. The supplemental leave expires on September 30, 2021.
  12. An employer may not deny leave based on the lack of certification from a health care provider establishing the need for the leave. However, it may be reasonable for the employer to ask for such certification if it obtains information suggesting that the employee is not taking the leave for a valid purpose.

If the employer extended FFCRA sick leave through March 31, 2021 (as allowed, but not required, under the federal law), then it can take a credit towards this supplemental leave.

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