California Reinstitutes Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requirement

March 26, 2021 Advisory

On March 19, 2021, California enacted Labor Code section 248.2, which requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related absences. While the statute is similar to last year’s COVID-19-related paid leave requirement that expired Dec. 31, 2020, the new paid leave law covers more employers and requires employers to provide paid leave under additional circumstances, including those related to COVID-19 vaccinations. Under the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act, employers with fewer than 500 employees will qualify for tax credits from the federal government to cover the cost of paid leave under Labor Code section 248.2, to the extent the leave is covered under the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or as a form of Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act leave.

Employers covered under Labor Code Section 248.2 are required to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave to an employee who is unable to work or telework due to COVID-19 because the employee is: (1) subject to a quarantine or isolation order; (2) advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; or (3) experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

The law also requires an employer to provide supplemental paid leave for COVID-19 vaccine-related reasons, if an employee is: (1) attending an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine; or (2) unable to work due to symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Section 248.2 further requires an employer to provide supplemental paid sick leave if an employee is unable to work or telework because the employee is: (1) caring for a family member (including a child, grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling or spouse) who is subject to a quarantine, isolation order or self-quarantine; or (2) caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed for COVID-19-related reasons.

The statute applies retroactively from Jan. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2021. Therefore, covered employers must compensate a covered employee for qualifying leave taken since Jan. 1, 2021. Employers are required to begin providing leave consistent with Labor Code section 248.2, including by making retroactive payments, no later than March 29, 2021.

The California Department of Industrial Relations has published a poster to address the requirements of California’s new supplemental paid leave law. Employers must display the poster where employees can easily read it. If employees do not frequent a physical workplace, the employer may disseminate the poster to employees electronically.

Armstrong Teasdale attorneys are actively monitoring and providing updates regarding the impact of COVID-19. For additional information, visit Armstrong Teasdale’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

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