With California Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature on legislation in early February, most California workers can now count on up to two weeks of paid leave for absences due to COVID-19-related sickness. This legislation—Assembly Bill 84—effectively reinstates the previous supplemental sick leave benefits workers formerly had access to earlier in the pandemic. That law expired in September of 2021—much to the chagrin of the state’s business leaders and labor unions who helped negotiate its comeback.
The renewed law affects businesses with 26 or more workers, and it is broken up into two 40-hour increments for a total of 80 hours. The first of these 40-hour allotments allow workers the option to take time off to recuperate from COVID-19 or to care for a loved one who is sick with COVID-19 without losing their pay for the time taken. It can also be used for time spent to attend vaccination appointments or recover from side effects related to being immunized. Additionally, employees may claim the time for caring for a child who is home from school due to quarantines or closures related to the virus.
Under the revived law, employers can limit workers to 24 hours of time for recovering or caring for someone who is recovering from symptoms related to taking the vaccine. The exception to this is when a healthcare provider deems more time to be necessary, and the employee provides verification saying such.
The second 40-hour block of time granted to employees under the law can only be used to cover lost time due to recovering from COVID-19 or caring for a family member with COVID-19. Employers are permitted by law to require that employees submit proof of positive testing.
If an employee normally works less than 40 hours a week, then the employee is only eligible for the number of hours they normally work. For employees working varied hours, to figure how much paid time off the employees are entitled to, employers must multiply the average hours worked each day over the preceding six months by seven.
The cap for employers to compensate workers for paid time off is $5,110 or up to $511 per day. The coverage applies retroactively and runs from January 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022, when it is set to expire.
Employees of companies that have fewer than 26 employees do not qualify for the paid time off afforded by this law. However, they continue to qualify under existing law for three paid days of sick leave while recovering from any illness.
At JML Law, A Professional Law Corporation, we stay abreast of all new laws affecting workers in the Golden State so that we can better represent them when needed. If you have a legal matter related to your employment, reach out to our Los Angeles employment attorney for assistance. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case or call us at 818-610-8800.