California passed a bill that again provides workers up to 80 hours of COVID-19-related time off, which could include recovering from the virus or caring for a family member that tests positive. The bill, signed by the legislature and awaiting the governor’s anticipated signature, applies to anyone at a company with more than 25 employees and covers time taken off between January 1, 2022 and September 30, 2022.
The bill essentially reinstates the COVID-19 supplement sick leave that expired in September 2021 allowing employees to take up to 80 hours off. The bill also sets forth the compensation employees will receive during the leave.
The bill that expired in September 2021 required employers with more than 25 employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave to workers for necessary quarantine or isolation if they contracted COVID-19, if they were experiencing symptoms after getting a vaccine, or needed to take care of a family member in quarantine.
The new law provides that workers can use the 40 hours of paid leave for a variety of COVID-19-related reasons, including COVID-19 symptoms, vaccine appointments, or caring for a family member with COVID-19 or a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19. The employee must be unable to work or telework. If the worker exhausts the initial 40 hours, they are entitled to another 40 hours of leave if they or a family member they are caring for tests positive for COVID-19. The employee can take time off if they are waiting for test results, and the employer must make a test available to the employee at no cost. But if the employee doesn’t take a test or refuses to provide results, the employer does not have to grant another 40 hours of leave.
The new law provides that full-time employees be compensated based on their regular rate of pay. The employee’s compensation would be no more than $511 per day or $5,110 in total. “Full-time” is defined as an employee who either works full time or was scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per work for the employer in the two weeks preceding the date the covered employee took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
Nonexempt employees would be compensated for each hour of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave they take based on their highest rate.
The rate is either calculated in the same way as the regular rate of pay for the workweek during which they take the COVID-19 leave; or by dividing the total wages — not including overtime — by the total hours worked in the last 90 days; or based on state or local minimum wage.
Exempt employees would be paid during the supplemental paid sick leave based on how they calculate wages for other forms of paid leave, according to the bill.
As always, if you have any questions regarding Covid-19 legal issues or any other matter involving labor and employment law or litigation, please call us at 310-392-5200 or email Doug Stuart.