California has expanded its supplemental paid sick leave to cover many workers who are not entitled to emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Supplemental paid sick leave is sick leave that is in addition to traditional paid sick leave under the state’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The state has created a useful FAQ on supplemental sick leave that can be found here.
Previously, the state supplemental paid sick leave only applied to food-sector employers with 500 or more employees if they had to leave their home to work. Now, supplemental paid sick leave is available to employees of all employers with 500 or more employees nationwide. It also applies to healthcare providers and emergency responders of smaller employers (those with fewer than 500 employees) who can be denied use of federal EPSL at their employer’s discretion. As a practical matter, employers who were previously denying federal EPSL to healthcare providers and emergency responders may want to change course because providing the optional federal leave will allow them to claim a tax credit whereas providing the mandatory leave only under state law will not. Employees who telecommute are not eligible for supplemental paid sick leave.
Covered employees are entitled to take up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave. The amount is prorated for part-time employees. The leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day. Covered employees are entitled to use supplemental paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- The employee is advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate because of concerns related to COVID-19; or
- The employer prohibits the employee from working because of health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.
Notably — and unlike federal EPSL — the law does not provide time off for employees to care for others who are sick or quarantining or to care for children.
For food-sector employees, the law applies retroactively to April 16, 2020 (which is when the law originally took effect by executive order). For all other covered employees, the law took effect September 19, 2020. Supplemental paid sick leave will be available until federal EPSL expires; currently the federal program is slated to run through December 31, 2020.
Earlier in the year, the governor issued an executive order requiring employers to allow food-sector employees to wash their hands every 30 minutes or more often if needed. This requirement is now part of the California Retail Food Code.
Employers must post the appropriate notice below in the workplace. If employees do not regularly go to the workplace, it should be distributed to them electronically.