On February 9, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 114 that retroactively reinstates COVID supplemental paid sick leave from January 1st, 2022, through September 30, 2022. The agreement is effective immediately, but an employer’s obligation to pay the leave does not begin until February 19th.
Originally, in March of 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 95. That bill required employers to provide their employees COVID paid sick leave from January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. Much like the original bill, this new agreement applies only to employers with 26 or more workers. Employers will have to absorb the costs, as there will be no offsetting tax credits.
Full-time employees may receive a maximum of 80 hours, but the hours depend on the reason for the leave. There are two categories of leave available. Each category is up to 40 hours (the number of hours full-time employees work in a week) of leave.
Employees are eligible for up to 40 hours in the first category when they show proof that they or a family member tested positive for COVID.
Meanwhile, they are eligible for the second category and up to an additional 40 hours of leave for other covered reasons (quarantine or isolation, vaccine appointments or recovery, experiencing COVID symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, closure of school or place of care for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises).
If an employee is getting the vaccine or recovering from side effects, employers can limit the amount of leave to 24 hours or three days. However, if the employee provides medical documentation that verifies that they continue to experience symptoms related to the booster, they can be granted more time off- up to the 40 hours available for this category.
Part-time employees will receive the total number of hours they normally work in one week for each leave category. For example, if they typically work a 20-hour week, they are eligible for up to 20 hours a week per category.
Any employee that works various hours per week and has been with the company for more than six months is eligible for seven times the average number of hours worked per day in the six months before their leave. If they have only been with the company for 8 days to six months, they will use the same formula to calculate their maximum leave, using their entire period of employment. If the employee has worked 7 days or fewer their leave equals the total number of hours worked.
To calculate the 2022 COVID pay rate, employers must divide the total wages excluding overtime by the total non-overtime hours worked in the full pay periods occurring in the prior 90 days of employment. Employees paid by piece rate are the only exception. This calculation typically uses all hours worked to determine the regular rate of pay.
For exempt employees, their leave will be calculated in the same way other forms of paid leave are already calculated. All employees will be compensated with their respective calculations at a maximum of $511 per day or $5,110 total.
Additionally, employers must include information regarding the hours used on pay stubs or other written notices that employees receive. We are currently awaiting further guidance from the California Labor Commissioner regarding pay stub reporting.
The employee gets to decide the type of leave to use. Whether it is their paid regular leave or any other supplemental leave available to them, it is their choice. Similarly, they may determine how many hours to use. Employees may start using the 2022 COVID leave immediately.
If the leave is because the employee/family member tested positive, employers may request another test on or after the fifth day of initial results. If the employer makes this request, the employer is responsible for any costs that come with the test.
The State labor department will have a poster ready for the public by February 16th. Employers must display in a visible area for employees to see. They may also distribute the poster electronically to employees that don’t frequent the workplace.
As we continue to see new COVID legislation, we encourage employers to speak with a trusted professional to ensure compliance. There may also be city and county-level regulations that employers need to be aware of for compliance.
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.