© 2021 American Payroll Institute, Inc. New California COVID-19-Related Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requirements Emore ffective March 29, 2021, California employers with than 25 employees must provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19-related supplemental paid sick leave (PSL) retroactive to January 1, 2021, and through September 30, 2021, upon an employee’s oral or written request [S.B. 95, L. 2021]. Note: The California Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO) refers to the new supplemental paid leave as PSL, but it also includes school closure leave and other leave similar to paid family leave. Retroactive to January 1 The retroactive application of the law means that if an employee took unpaid leave sometime during 2021 prior to the law’s effective date (March 29, 2021) for covered uses, the employer must pay the employee for that leave as if the law had been in effect at that time. Coverage All employers, public or private, with more than 25 employees are covered, including those with collective bargaining agreements. Covered employees are those who cannot work or telework for reasons related to COVID-19. Usage COVID-19 supplemental PSL must be provided to covered employees who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19, including for any of the following reasons: Employee’s own medical treatment or quarantine: The covered employee is subject to quarantine or an isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health (DPH), the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace, has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. Family member’s medical treatment, quarantine, or school closure: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises. Vaccine-related: The covered employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms. According to FAQs provided by the LCO, a stay-at-home order or guidelines provided by the DPH or CDC must apply to the covered employee’s specific circumstances in order for the employee to qualify for paid leave. For example, a general order might not satisfy the eligibility requirement, but if the employee lives with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, guidelines or an order of a local health officer that directs individuals who live with someone who has COVID-19 to quarantine themselves would satisfy the requirement. Amount of leave Employers must provide 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental PSL to covered full-time employees and other employees who were scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per week for the employer in the two weeks preceding the COVID-19 supplemental PSL. The bank of 80 hours of paid leave is in addition to any COVID-19-related supplemental leave provided in 2020. For part-time employees with a regular weekly schedule, employers must provide an amount of paid leave equal to the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work over two weeks. For part-time employees with variable schedules, the amount of paid leave must be at least 14 times the average number of hours worked per day over the six months preceding the leave. Pay rate The compensation rate for a nonexempt covered employee must be the employee’s highest regular rate of pay for the pay period in which the supplemental PSL is taken, the state minimum wage, or the local minimum wage to which the covered employee is entitled, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total. Exempt employees must be paid the same rate of pay as wages calculated for other types of paid leave (per the FAQs). Interaction with other paid leave requirements COVID-19 supplemental PSL must be provided separately and in addition to any PSL to which the employee is entitled under state or local law. Employers are prohibited from requiring a covered employee to use other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off, or vacation time provided by the employer to the employee before that employee uses COVID-19 supplemental PSL or in lieu thereof, except in certain circumstances in which the employer provides another supplemental benefit for leave for COVID-19. COVID-19 supplemental PSL under this new law also must be provided to covered employees in addition to leave that was provided under previous laws which expired on December 31, 2020, such as the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and state and local 2020 COVID‑19 supplemental paid leave laws. An employer can require an employee to use the new 2021 COVID-19 supplemental paid leave prior to exclusion April 5, 2021 Volume 23 Issue 7
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