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California Expands COVID Sick Leave; Adds Vaccination Leave (3/29/21)


Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed SB 95, which resurrects the statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave that expired at the end of 2020. The bill takes effect immediately but provides a 10-day grace period for employers to start providing sick leave. The new law also applies retroactively to Jan. 1 and will remain in effect until Sept. 30.

The new law applies to employers in the state of California with 25 or more employees. Employees who are not able to work or telework for any of the reasons detailed in the legislation qualify for the paid leave. There is no length of service requirement for the leave entitlement provided under the new law.

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California's Statewide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is Back
Jackson Lewis via SHRM | Mar 2021

Read the text of the measure here.
Effective date: 3/29/21 (benefits retroactive to 1/1/21)
Expiration date: 9/30/21
Read the governor's press release here.
Here are the updated FAQs and the mandatory poster.

About the Effective Date and Retroactive Benefits
Although the law was signed on March 19, 2021, the requirement for an employer to provide 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave does not start until March 29, 2021.  Beginning on March 29, the requirement to provide 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave goes back to January 1, 2021, which means that covered employees who took qualifying leave between January 1, 2021 and March 28, 2021, can request payment for that leave if it was not paid by the employer in the amount that is required under this law.
Read the rest of FAQ# 7

Additional Law Firm Articles

This new law has three critical components that differentiate it from previous COVID-19 supplemental sick leave policies that have existed on the federal, state, and local level. First, SB 95 applies to a greater number of California employees than previous legislative efforts. Second, SB 95 allows employees to take COVID-19 supplemental sick leave for new purposes, including for vaccinations. Third, SB 95 applies retroactively to require employers to compensate certain employees who previously took unpaid leave for COVID-19 reasons.
COVID-19: California Extends COVID-19 Supplement Paid Sick Leave and Includes Vaccinations
K&L Gates | Mar 2021

COVERED EMPLOYERS: A covered employer is any public or private employer in California that employs more than 25 employees, including those with collective bargaining agreements. The threshold of 25 employees does not mean that there must be 25 employees in California. If an employer has more than 25 employees in total, with one employee located in California, the employer is subject to SB 95 as to any of its California employees.
California Enacts New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requirements With Retroactive Application
Cozen | Mar 2021

Importantly, the 2021 law addresses how it interacts with Cal-OSHA requirements. Specifically, if Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or Cal-OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard (ATDS) require an employer to maintain an employee's earnings when an employee is excluded from the workplace due to COVID-19 exposure, employers may require an employee to first exhaust SPSL.
California Enacts (Retroactive) 2021 Emergency Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law
Littler | Mar 2021

The requirement to provide leave begins 10 days after the law is enacted and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. Any retroactive payments need to be paid "on or before the payday for the next full pay period after the oral or written request of the covered employee." The new law expires on September 30, 2021. In light of the retroactivity, California employers should begin preparing for leave and reimbursement requests and consult with employment counsel to ensure their COVID-19 leave policies are compliant with state and local laws.
Statewide Supplemental Paid COVID-19 Sick Leave Resuscitated, Expanded, And Retroactive Back To January 1, 2021
Proskauer | Mar 2021

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