CA Extends, Expands COVID-Related Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

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Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

This is not a repeat blog post. It just seems like one.

Last Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law SB 95 (codified as Labor Code Sections 248.2 and 248.3), which extends and expands California’s COVID-related supplemental paid sick leave.

You may be thinking, didn’t California already provide COVID-19-related supplemental paid sick leave? It did, but this is new and different.

Although California enacted legislation last year that provided supplemental paid sick leave, that legislation was tied to the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which expired on December 31. From then until March 19 of this year, the only employees eligible for supplemental paid sick leave were those in cities and counties that extended their own supplemental paid sick leave ordinances. Those jurisdictions include Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, the City and County of San Francisco, Sacramento, Sacramento County, San Mateo County, Sonoma County, and the cities of Long Beach, Oakland, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

Much of SB 95 tracks the 2020 COVID-related supplemental paid sick leave legislation, but there are some key differences:

  • This new law is retroactive to January 1, 2021, and is in effect through September 30, 2021.
  • Employees who work for private and public employers with 26 or more employees (“eligible employees”) are now eligible for up to 80 hours of supplemental sick leave if they are unable to work or telework for reasons related to COVID-19. Smaller businesses with 25 or fewer employees are exempt, but if they voluntarily offer supplemental paid sick leave, they might be eligible for a federal payroll tax credit.
  • There are also new specific provisions that apply to firefighters (included in Labor Code Section 248.2) and to providers of in-home supportive and/or waiver personal care services (Labor Code Section 248.3).
  • Eligible employees can now use supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 vaccinations. This covers not only the actual vaccination appointments themselves, but also any time off that eligible employees may have to take due to symptoms or side effects from the vaccine.
  • Additionally, eligible employees can use their supplemental paid sick leave to care for family members -- a spouse, registered domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent or stepparent, grandparent, or sibling -- who is subject to a COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation order, or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
  • Further, eligible employees can use their supplemental paid sick leave to care for a child whose school or childcare facility is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Remember, this is supplemental paid sick leave. It is not a substitute for PTO, vacation, or non-COVID-related paid sick leave that the employer may already provide. It is in addition to those types of leave. However, if an employer provided supplemental paid sick leave earlier in 2021 under (for example) a local ordinance, those hours may offset any hours the employer would otherwise be required to provide under SB 95.

Here is a helpful chart from the California Department of Industrial Relations comparing the key provisions of the state's Paid Family Leave, Paid Sick Leave, and 2021 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave requirements.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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