California Restores and Expands COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, Now Covers Public Sector and Mid-Size Companies

On Friday, March 19, 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave law (CSPSL).  This law finally restores paid sick leave for workers who miss work for COVID-19 related reasons after the last round of federal (FFCRA) and state leave mandates expired at the end of 2020.  The law went into effect on Monday, March 29 but applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. That means workers who were forced to take unpaid leave in the first few months of this year will now be able to seek pay for that leave. The program ends on September 30, 2021.

The 2021 CSPSL applies to many more employees than the previous version, including public sector workers. All employers with more than 25 employees, including those with collective bargaining agreements, must now provide these benefits. The previous version of the law applied only to private-sector employers with more than 500 employees. However, the program is now narrower in one respect: independent contractors are no longer entitled to these benefits.

The law provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work for COVID-19-related reasons.  These include staying home because of a quarantine order from a health agency or healthcare provider, or because one is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis. Leave is also available if an employee needs to care for a family member who is quarantining for those same reasons, or whose school or place of care is unavailable due to COVID-19. Lastly, the new law provides leave for attending a vaccine appointment or if the worker has to miss work because of a reaction to the vaccine.

This law ensures workers are protected from the unexpected financial shock of a COVID-19 related leave and, should they need to quarantine, are not punished for doing so and keeping their coworkers safe.

The California Labor Commissioner has a detailed FAQ on the new law at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/COVID19Resources/FAQ-for-SPSL-2021.html

Please contact your labor law counsel with further questions.

By Matt Erle | April 6, 2021

Legal Developments