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California’s New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On Feb. 9, 2022, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 84, which again provides up to 80 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave to employees who work for employers with 26 or more employees. The former COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave program was signed in March 2021 and expired Sept. 30, 2021. The widespread exposure to the highly contagious Omicron variant fell in a time frame where there was no active COVID-19 paid sick leave program.

The recently signed bill is retroactive to January 1, 2022 and extends until September 30, 2022. It provides up to 80 hours of paid sick time for employees who need time off from work for various COVID-19 related reasons, including:

  • To attend a COVID-19 vaccination or booster appointment either for themselves or a family member for whom the employee is caring;
  • If the employee, or a family member the employee is caring for, is experiencing symptoms related to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or booster (can be limited to 24 hours of paid sick leave in certain circumstances);
  • If the employee, or a family member the employee is caring for, tests positive for COVID-19;
  • To isolate and quarantine due to a health care provider’s order due to COVID-19, or if the employee is caring for a family member under a quarantine order from the family member’s health care provider;
  • If the employee is experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • If the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to a COVID-19 related reason.

The employer is authorized to require an employee who tests positive to submit to another COVID test on the fifth day after the first positive result and to provide documentation of the results. The employer must provide this test. This shortened time frame of five days is likely due to the Center for Disease Control’s and the California Department of Public Health’s recent decreased isolation and quarantine requirements for those testing positive for COVID.

An employer may also require an employee to provide proof of a positive family member’s test result before paying additional COVID-19 paid sick leave. If an employee refuses to provide documentation of the positive test, the employer is not required to pay the COVID-19 supplemental sick leave.

Given the large Omicron surge over the New Year, many employees may very likely seek retroactive payment. An employer may require a covered employee to provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test during the relevant period should the employee seek the retroactive payment.

For more information and updates on the developing situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Business Continuity Amid COVID-19 page.