The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 entitles all California employees to paid sick days. Under that law, an employee accrues paid sick days at a rate of not less than one hour per every 30 hours worked, subject to certain use, accrual, and yearly carryover limitations.
Senate Bill 95, which was approved by the Legislature on March 18, 2021, and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19, 2021, enacts California Labor Code Sections 248.2 and 248.3. Beginning on March 29, 2021, SB-95 will place additional requirements on employers to provide supplemental paid sick leave to employees whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19. Unlike the 2014 statute, the new supplemental paid sick leave provision only applies to employers with 25 or more employees.
Under SB-95, a covered employee is entitled to COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if: (1) the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 pursuant to an order or guidelines issued by the State Department of Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer; (2) the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19; (3) the employee is attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; (4) the employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework; (5) the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; (6) the employee is caring for a family member as a result of COVID-19; or (7) the employee must care for a child whose school or daycare has been closed due to COVID-19 exposure on the premises.
The bill applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. As a result, some employers may need to retroactively pay supplemental sick pay benefits to employees who were unable to work or telecommute due to COVID-19 in the first months of this year if the eligible employee was not properly compensated pursuant to the provisions of SB-95.
Further, under SB-95, public and private California employers with more than 25 employees nationwide are required to provide employees up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related supplemental paid sick leave. These 80 hours are in addition to the paid sick leave that an employee is already entitled to under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Therefore, California employers should review this legislation closely.