New California COVID-19 Leave Law Is Retroactive to Jan. 1

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Under a new law, California employers with more than 25 employees must provide up to 80 new hours of supplemental paid sick leave for specific COVID-19-related reasons. The leave requirement takes effect March 29, 2021, but is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021.

Reasons for Leave

Employees may take leave if they cannot work or telework because of:

  • Quarantine, isolation, or a healthcare provider’s advice to quarantine due to COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19 while seeking a diagnosis;
  • Caring for a family member to whom one of the above quarantine or isolation conditions applies, or caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises; or
  • A vaccine appointment or vaccine-related symptoms.

 

Retroactivity of Leave

Employees who took qualifying leave between Jan. 1 and March 28, 2021, may request payment from their employers for that leave under the new law. Leave pay is subject to daily and total maximums. The leave must be provided in addition to other paid or unpaid leave, but employers may be credited for leave taken since Jan. 1 that meets supplemental paid leave requirements.

Notice Requirements

Employers must post a notice about the leave entitlement.

Action Steps

Employers should ensure their policies comply with the new leave, notice and recordkeeping requirements of the law. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has published FAQs about the new law.

Amount of Leave

The new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave must be provided in addition to any other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off or vacation time provided by the employer. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from requiring employees to use any other leave before using the new leave. However, employers may require an employee excluded from the workplace under the Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards or the Cal-OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard to first exhaust their COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave before having to provide exclusion pay.

Compensation

Maximum Amounts
Supplemental paid sick leave compensation is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 total, per employee. Employees may use other paid leave available to them to make up the difference between this pay rate and their normal pay.

 

Non-exempt employees on leave must be paid the highest of the following:

  • The employee’s regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the leave is taken;
  • A rate calculated by dividing the employee’s total wages, not including overtime premium pay, by the employee’s total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment;
  • The state minimum wage; or
  • The local minimum wage.

Exempt Employees

Supplemental paid sick leave compensation for exempt employees must be the same as other forms of paid leave.

 

 

 

 

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