Employers in California with 26 or more employees will be required to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave through the end of 2022 once Gov. Gavin Newsom signs Assembly Bill 152, which he is expected to do by his signing deadline. The leave was set to expire Sept. 30.
The legislation requires eligible employers to continue to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work or telework for reasons related to COVID-19, including caring for themselves or a family member who is ill with COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms after receiving a vaccine or booster.
The legislation implements several changes that are favorable to employers: It creates a relief grant program for qualified small businesses that incur costs related to providing supplemental leave, and it places new COVID-19 testing and documentation requirements on employees.
Relief grants up to $50K for qualifying small businesses
Qualifying California small businesses and nonprofits will be able to apply for grants up to $50,000 to help cover costs related to providing and administering the supplemental paid sick leave. Entities are qualified to apply if they are currently active and began operating before June 1, 2021, have between 26 and 49 employees and provided supplemental paid sick leave in accordance with the laws among other eligibility requirements.
CDA will inform members when the relief program is open and share details on how and where to apply for a grant.
Two ‘buckets’ of supplemental paid leave
As CDA previously reported, two separate “buckets” of up to 40 hours leave are available for different purposes and with different eligibility requirements.
Also as before, employers cannot require employees to exhaust their supplemental sick leave prior to receiving exclusion pay under the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. Under the Cal/OSHA ETS, employers need to pay employees who are excluded from the workplace for a work-related exposure.
40 hours for qualifying circumstances
Covered employees in California are allowed 40 hours of paid supplemental leave if they are unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:
- Are subject to quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 as required under an order or guidance (i.e., State Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a local department of public health).
- Have been advised by a health care provider to quarantine for COVID-19 reasons.
- Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Are attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
- Have symptoms or are caring for a family member who has symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster.
- Are caring for a covered family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 or have been advised by a health care provider to quarantine due to COVID-19 and/or are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
Limit for vaccine- or booster-related leave
Employees can choose how many hours to take up to the maximum, and employers must make those hours available immediately upon the employee’s written or oral request. However, the employer can limit the total supplemental leave they provide per vaccine or booster to either three days or 24 hours (depending on the employee’s typical work schedule), unless the employee provides verification from a health care provider that the employee or their family member is continuing to experience symptoms.
Additional 40 hours with proof of positive COVID test
If a covered employee or a family member of a covered employee tests positive for COVID-19 and the covered employee provides their employer with proof of the positive test result (day five or later from the initial positive test), the employee is entitled to up to 40 additional hours of supplemental paid sick leave.
Employers can require employees to receive a second COVID test
The legislation implements two testing and documentation changes that could be considered favorable for employers.
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and the employer requires the employee to submit to a diagnostic test in five days and that test is positive, the employer may then require the employee to submit to a second diagnostic test within 24 hours.
Additionally, employers are not required to provide additional supplemental paid sick leave to any employee who tests positive and refuses to provide documentation or submit to the diagnostic tests required by the employer.
The employer may require and pay for the employee to receive another test on or after the fifth day after the first positive test and provide documentation of those results.
CDA will inform members when the state is accepting applications for the relief grant. Dentists can learn more about supplemental paid sick leave in the CDA resource.