California Governor Gavin Newsom renewed COVID-19 supplemental sick leave on February 9, 2022. However, there are significant changes between the new bill, Senate Bill 114, and the previous bill, SB 95, which expired September 30, 2021. Employers will not be able to reuse old policies and forms. A notable difference between the two bills is that SB 114 does not allow a tax credit. At this time, employers will be responsible for the costs of COVID-19 related leave.
SB 114, the new COVID-19 supplemental sick leave (CSPSL), will allow employees to access 80 hours of employer-paid sick leave for various COVID-19 related reasons. It goes into effect on February 19, 2022, and will be retroactive to January 1, 2022. The bill will expire on September 30, 2022.
Key facts employers need to know:
- SB 114 applies to employers with 25 or more employees.
- Employers cannot require employees to use CSPSL before, or instead of, exclusion pay.
- There is a paystub requirement for the new sick leave. It is necessary to list the amount of CSPSL an employee used, but it is not necessary to include the available hours.
- A poster detailing the new leave rules will be made available by the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Employers must either physically post this notice or provide access through email or an employee intranet.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave
Employees who cannot work or telework due to the following reasons may take CSPSL:
- The employee is subject to a COVID-19 related quarantine or isolation period outlined by federal, state, or local order.
- The employee is advised to quarantine or isolate by a health care provider due to COVID-19.
- The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for a family member subject to a COVID-19 related quarantine or isolation period outlined by federal, state, or local order.
- 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.
Duration of Leave
Employees are entitled to 80 hours of leave time for COVID-19 related reasons. However, the leave hours are broken into two leave banks of 40 hours each. The leave banks allow access for different reasons.
The first bank is available to employees who are off work for the following reasons:
- The employee tested positive for COVID-19
- The employee is caring for a family member who tested positive for COVID-19
The second bank is available to employees who need CSPSL for any other covered reasons, such as vaccine appointments, school closures, experiencing COVID symptoms, etc. Time off for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot may be limited to three days or 24 hours. Employers can request a note from a healthcare provider after the initial three days if the employee is still off work.
If an employee took time off due to COVID-19 before February 19, 2022, the employee might be entitled to retroactive compensation. They must request the retroactive payment from the employer either verbally or in writing.
SB 114 goes into effect on February 19, 2022, and remains in effect until September 30, 2022. Below are the next steps for employers:
- Update COVID-19 leave policies and discuss a new leave process for CSPSL.
- Prepare for a paystub requirement
- Develop a procedure for handling retroactive CSPSL requests.
- Monitor the California Labor Commissioner’s website for COVID-19 guidance and resources. Mandatory posters and FAQs should be available by February 19, 2022.
Implementing any new law can be challenging for employers. That is why Emplicity’s PEO services are beneficial for employers who want to remain compliant with up-to-date legislature. Contact us today for information on how we can help you!
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