by Alexandra Saddik and Jonathan Babione

On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (“SB 95”). This new supplemental paid sick leave policy requires employers with more than 25 employees to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work or telework for the following COVID-19-related reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period pursuant to local, state, or federal orders or guidelines;
  2. The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  3. The employee is getting vaccinated against COVID-19;
  4. The employee is experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework;
  5. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  6. The employee is caring for a family member who is required to isolate or quarantine or is advised by a medical provider to quarantine; or
  7. The employee is caring for a child, whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable.

Employers are required to make supplemental paid sick leave available immediately upon the oral or written request of the employee.  This supplemental paid sick leave is separate from the paid sick leave required by California law and/or applicable local ordinances.

Like the now-expired Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) sick leave, SB 95 caps the amount of paid sick leave to $511/day and $5,110 total. However, SB 95 leaves room for the cap to increase if the federal government chooses to replace the FFCRA with a more generous sick leave policy. Under SB 95, employers must pay employees the highest of (1) the state minimum wage; (2) the local minimum wage; (3) the employee’s regular rate of pay; or (4) the total wages worked divided by the employee’s hours worked in the prior 90 days of employment.

SB 95 applies retroactively back to January 1, 2021, meaning that employers must pay for supplemental paid sick that would have otherwise been used. This paid sick leave program will become effective around March 28, 2021 and expires September 31, 2021. The Labor Commissioner’s office will be providing an updated notice for employers to use to inform employees of their rights.

California’s implementation of a new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave program is intended to replace the FFCRA and California’s prior supplemental paid sick leave, which both expired December 31, 2020. However, there are subtle differences between this new sick leave law and prior sick leave law. Ferber Law is ready to assist employers in implementing this new COVID paid sick leave policy.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.