URGENT CA: California Enacts 2021 Supplemental Sick Leave (Retroactively)

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On March 21, 2021, CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 into law, which mandates that additional sick leave be provided for COVID-19 related reasons to employees in CA in addition to paid time off benefits which may be already provided. While the law does not take effect until March 29, 2021, it is retroactive to January 1, 2021.


The Supplemental Sick Leave will apply to employers with 26 or more employees and give paid sick leave to employees for the care of their own COVID-19 related issues, as well as for the care of an employee’s family member (child, grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling, or spouse).


Full-time employees will have access to 80 hours. Part-time employees with a normal weekly schedule will receive the total number of hours they are normally scheduled to work over two weeks. Employees who work variable hours, whose tenure is more than 6 months, receive 14 times the average number of hours they work each day in the 6 months preceding their leave date.


Importantly, the 2021 law addresses how it interacts with Cal-OSHA requirements. Specifically, if Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) require an employer to maintain an employee’s earnings when an employee is excluded from the workplace due to COVID-19 exposure, employers may require an employee to first exhaust SPSL.


Reasons for use of the Supplemental Sick Leave have been expanded:

  • Employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by federal, state, or local orders or guidelines.
  • Employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • Employee is attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
  • Employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or guideline or who has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • Employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable on the premises for reasons related to COVID-19.


Like it did in 2020, California requires information concerning SPSL to be available on paystubs or other written notices employees receive on payday. Also, like 2020 standards, there is a provision that says the paystub requirement is not enforceable until the next full pay period following the date that the law takes effect.


The requirement to provide SPSL remains in effect through September 30, 2021. If an employee is using SPSL on September 30, however, and the absence would continue without interruption past September 30, the employee gets to continue using available SPSL for that absence.


Clients wishing for additional information on CA Paid Sick, please contact your Guardian HR dedicated Manager.


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