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California Passes New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requirement

On March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 95 which mandates employers to provide their employees with supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) for various COVID-related reasons.

This is, in addition to any existing paid time off benefits.  SB 95 aims to extend and expand the SPSL ordinances that were introduced at the start of the pandemic. Here is what we know.

Who is covered?

Organizations with more than 25 employees are subject to offer SPSL for their employees under this new legislation. Previous SPSL requirements applied to organizations with 500 or more employees.

What are the leave requirements? 

Employees that are unable to work or telework due to a qualifying reason are covered under this new legislation. This could now apply to employees that are working remotely if they are unable to complete their work, even from home, for COVID-related reasons.

An employee experiencing one of the following would be considered to have a qualifying reason:

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period that is related to COVID-19.
  • They are simply advised by a health care professional to self-quarantine or isolate for COVID-19 related reasons.
  • They are attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for COVID-19.
  • They are experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine and are unable to work.
  • They are caring for a family member who is subject to or has been advised to quarantine.
  • The employee is caring for a child (regardless of age) whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable for COVID-related reasons.

What are the leave limits? 

  • Full-time employees (or those working an equivalent of 40 hours per week in two weeks) are eligible for 80 hours of SPSL.
  • Part-time employees are eligible for a variable amount based on the hours previously worked.

For non-exempt employees, the paid sick leave is to be paid at the highest of the following rates:

  • The rate calculated for the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the covered employees use their sick leave (regardless if the employee has worked overtime that week or not).
  • The rate calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages (not including overtime) by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment.
  • The state minimum wage.
  • The local minimum wage to which the employee is entitled.

For exempt employees, the rate of pay will be calculated in the same way as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave. The amount is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 per employee.

Leave provided under the FFCRA or local ordinances for reasons that overlap with this new CA legislation, may run concurrently. Additionally, employers may not require their employees to use other paid or unpaid leave before using this new leave.

Employers are also required to provide notice of the new leave available to their employees either by:

  • Posting the information in a visible and frequently visited place at work.
  • By an electronic notification to remote workers.
  • The sick leave usage & calculation will also be required to be displayed on the employee’s check stub.

The Labor Commissioner is expected to prepare a notice template for organizations to use. SB 95 is set to become effective retroactively as of January 1, 2021 and is set to expire on September 30, 2021.

Is there anything Payroll Systems can help you with as you accommodate rapid legislation changes? Reach out and talk to us about the easy-to-scale solutions you need for managing your workforce.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.