Even as we see hope on the horizon, employees and their families are still being ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. Luckily, the California Legislature has seen the impact the pandemic has had on those employees on the front lines and has passed additional emergency relief in the form of additional paid sick leave.
California Passes Covid-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.
In response to the continuing health and job crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the California Legislature passed a new law mandating 80 hours of paid sick leave for any full-time employee who cannot work or telework for certain reasons related to the pandemic as part of a revised Labor Code section 248.2.
An employee can request leave for the following reasons:
- Caring for Yourself: The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19, has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Caring for a Family Member: The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19, has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
- Vaccines: The employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms.
Critically, the law supplements all prior sick leave grants, such as the sick leave authorized under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the 2020 COVID19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave laws. This means you may be entitled to even more paid sick time if your doctor says you need it.
When Can You Use The Supplemental Sick Leave for COVID-19?
This new law applies to all employers with 25 or more employees regardless of the type of industry but only covers the period from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. As of March 19, 2021, your employer will have to tell you the amount of applicable Covid-19 sick leave you have available for your use on your wage stub.
Your rate of pay for the sick leave is calculated based on your regular rate of pay, not to be lower than the applicable minimum wage, if you are non-exempt employee and at your regular salary if you are an exempt employee. There is a cumulative cap of $5,110 for all leave granted under this law and a per-day cap of $511—although this cap is not affected by any prior leave an employee took under either FFCRA emergency paid sick leave or the 2020 California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.
The leave is also retroactive, meaning you have to be paid—and cannot be penalized for requesting or taking leave under the statute—for any qualifying leave you took after January 1, 2021. However, you must affirmatively request the leave be applied retroactively if the leave was taken prior to March 29, 2021. You may request the leave orally—but we always recommend you request it in writing so there is a clear record of your request. The payment must also be made by your next scheduled payday and recorded on your wage statement.
It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for requesting or taking this leave.
Talk to an Experienced Sick Leave Lawyer
Every worker in California is entitled to paid sick leave and no one should be punished for protecting their or their families’ physical well-being. Retaliation for taking paid sick leave is a social justice issue as it often disproportionately impacts employees of color or limited economic means. We provide free consultations for all clients facing issues with exercising their right to sick leave. Contact our experienced employment lawyers today.