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New COVID-19 Law Takes Effect

by on March 19, 2021

posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Law, Legislative Updates,

Governor Newson recently signed SB 95.  The law is effective not only immediately but retroactively to January 1, 2021.  As discussed more below, the law provides supplemental paid sick leave for all employees of an employer with 25 or more employees, with special rules for firefighters, when the employee is unable to work or telework if as a result of COVID-19.

Retroactivity

The law is in effect retroactively to January 1, 2021, and through September 30, 2021.

Notice must be provided by posting the attached notice or emailing it to those employees who are not present at the workplace. The notice was issued by the Labor Commissioner and must be provided by Monday, March 29.

Background

Under existing law, an employee who works in California for the same employer for 30 or more days within a year is entitled to paid sick days and accrues at least one hour for every 30 hours worked with some restrictions on use, accrual and carryover. Las year, the Labor Code was revised to provide supplemental paid sick leave for health care providers, public and private. emergency responders, food sector workers and those employed by a private employer with 500 or more employees.

Requirements

Effective January 1, 2021, and effective retroactively, for an employer with 25 or more employees, a certain number of hours of When an employee was either working or scheduled to work full time for at least 40 hours/week in the two weeks before the date the employee takes the supplemental paid COVID leave. This specifically includes exempt employees.

  1. When the employee has a normal weekly schedule, the employee is entitled to supplemental leave in the total number of hours the covered employee is normally scheduled to work for the employer over two weeks. This includes part-time employees.
  2. When the employee works a variable number of hours, 14 times the average number of hours the covered employee worked each day for the employer in the six months preceding the date the covered employee took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. If the covered employee has worked for the employer over a period of fewer than six months but more than 14 days, this calculation shall instead be made over the entire period the covered employee has worked for the employer.
  3. When the employee works a variable number of hours and has worked for the employer over a period of 14 days or less, the total number of hours the covered employee has worked for that employer.

This supplemental leave is in addition to any other paid sick leave to which the employee is entitled and, in general, must be used before any other leave (including vacation time) provided by the employer.  The employee can decide when to take the leave.  The leave must be available immediately to the employee upon request.  The employer may require the employee to exhaust the employee’s COVID-19 leave before using other leave

Rate of Pay

In general, the rate of pay will be the employee’s regular rate of pay but no more than $511/day and $5110 overall unless federal legislation increases that amount.

Basis for leave

The employee is unable to work or telework because the employee:

  1.  Is subject to a quarantine period related to COVID-19 defined by the State Department of Public Health, the CDC or a local health officer. If these authorities are subject to different quarantine periods, the paid leave is for the longest period. There is no requirement for an employee to show that the quarantine was ordered by the health authority.
  2. Has COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking testing or a medical diagnosis.
  3. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.
  4. Is caring for a family member who is subject to quarantine under local health authority rules or who has been ordered to quaranting.
  5. Is caring for a child whose school is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.

Firefighters

This bill applies to firefighters employed by a public agency, among others. The bill would provide a different calculation for supplemental paid sick leave for a covered employee who is a firefighter subject to certain work schedule requirements and for a covered employee working fewer or variable hours: firefighter who was scheduled to work more than 80 hours in the two weeks preceding the date the employee left the workplace because of COVID-19 is entitled to an amount of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave equal to the total number of hours that the covered employee was scheduled to work for the employer in those two preceding weeks.

Enforcement

The Labor Commissioner enforces these COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave provisions.

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tags: COVID-19, Labor Commissioner, SB 95,

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