California renews employee entitlements to supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons

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The State of California has renewed employee entitlements to supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons. The supplemental paid sick leave entitlements for 2020 expired three months ago. California Labor Code section 248.1. The latest requirements, which are codified in California Labor Code sections 248.2 and 248.3, became effective March 29, 2021 and apply retroactively to January 1, 2021.  We identify important features of the renewed measures for 2021 and compare them to the entitlements of 2020 below. 

  2020 California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave 2021 California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
Covered Employers Employers with 500 or more employees (in response to the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act which only applied to employers with less than 500 employees) All employers with more than 25 employees are covered, including those with collective bargaining agreements
Covered Employees All employees who work for a covered employer if they cannot work onsite due to Qualifying Reasons (set forth below) All employees who work for a covered employer if they cannot work onsite or remotely, due to Qualifying Reasons (set forth below)
Qualifying Reasons
  • The covered employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  • The covered employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19
  • The covered employee is prohibited from working by the covered employee’s hiring entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19
  • The covered employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  • The covered employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
  • The covered employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19
  • The covered employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework
  • The covered employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
  • The covered employee is caring for a family member who is subject to quarantine orders or related guidelines
  • The covered 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
Pendency April 16, 2020 through December 31, 2020
*applied retroactively*
January 1, 2021 - September 30, 2021
*applies retroactively*
Retroactive Payment Covered employees who took qualifying leave between April 16, 2020 and September 18, 2020 could request payment orally or in writing for eligible leave Covered employees who took qualifying leave between January 1, 2021 and March 28, 2021, can request payment orally or in writing for eligible leave
Number of Hours Up to 80 hours of sick leave Up to 80 hours of sick leave
Amount of Pay Capped at $511 a day or $5,110 in total Capped at $511 a day or $5,110 in total
Offsets Covered employer was permitted to offset any hour of paid leave voluntarily provided for Qualifying Reasons prior to the effective date September 18, 2020 Covered employer may offset any hour of paid leave provided voluntarily for Qualifying Reasons prior to the effective date March 29, 2021
Notice Requirements Covered employers were required to post or distribute electronically the required poster Covered employers must post or distribute electronically the required poster
Recordkeeping Requirements 3 years 3 years
Medical Certification from Covered Employees Could not require employees to provide medical certification Cannot require employees to provide medical certification
Enforcement Authority California Labor Commissioner California Labor Commissioner
Violations Civil penalties Civil penalties

Key Takeaways

  • Despite the decrease in COVID-19 cases, employers must be prepared to continue to pay for the employee related costs associated with COVID-19, including retroactively.
  • The Qualifying Reasons for supplemental paid sick leave have expanded greatly. Not only is it important to be mindful of the expansions, it is imperative that employers stay abreast of any continued related guidance.
  • Employers must review, update, and give notice of their sick leave policies to ensure they are in compliance with all applicable regulations related to COVID-19.

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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