03.17.2020 | COVID-19

Proper Pay and Leave Practices

COVID-19 Client Alerts:

Proper Pay and Leave Practices

Paid Sick Leave
Generally, employers are required to provide at least 3 days/24 hours (whichever is more) of paid sick leave. This paid sick leave can be used due to a COVID-19 illness, as this leave is available for absence due to illness, the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or “preventive care” for an employee or the employee’s family member.

According to the Labor Commissioner, preventive care, under the paid sick leave law, “may include self-quarantine as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19 if quarantine is recommended by civil authorities.” In addition, paid sick leave can be taken “where there has been exposure to COVID-19 or where the worker has traveled to a high risk area.”

School/Day Care Closures
Employees at a worksite with more than 25 employees must be provided up to 40 hours of leave per year for certain school-related emergencies, including school or day care closure by civil authorities. Employers can require employees to use their vacation or PTO when on this leave, but they cannot be forced to use their paid sick leave (see above) for this time.

Reporting Time Pay
Employees must be paid “reporting time” pay if they report for their regularly scheduled shift, but are required to work fewer hours or are sent home early. In this situation, the employee must be paid for at least two hours, or no more than four hours, of reporting time pay. The Labor Commissioner gives the following example:

“A worker who reports to work for an eight-hour shift and only works for one hour must receive four hours of pay, one for the hour worked and three as reporting time pay so that the worker receives pay for at least half of the expected eight-hour shift.”

Reporting time pay may be relevant if the employer sends employees home before they can work their entire shift. However, reporting time pay is not required when an employer’s operations cannot commence or continue because of civil authorities. The Labor Commissioner explains: “this means that reporting time pay does apply under a state of emergency, unless the state of emergency includes a recommendation to cease operations.”

Exempt-Employee Salary Reductions
Generally, California exempt employees (typically those who do not earn overtime or are not entitled to breaks) must earn a salary of no less than two times the state minimum wage. The general rule is an employee must be paid their full weekly salary if they perform any work in that week. There are several exceptions however, including a salary deduction for a full day (or more) absence for personal reasons other than sickness.

Salary deductions for partial day absences caused by personal reasons or sickness are not allowed. But the regulations do allow partial day deductions from an employee’s sick leave bank by using accrued sick leave (if it is available).


Copyright © 2020, Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP. All rights reserved. Please be assured that we make every effort to make certain that the information contained in this alert is current at the time this email was delivered. Because laws and legislation are constantly changing, please contact us if you are unsure whether this material is still current. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended to be for general information purposes only. We assume no liability in connection with the use of the information contained in this article. Given the rapidly evolving nature of legal and governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, unfolding events likely will supersede many of the issues discussed in these updates. We encourage you to contact our lawyers directly for the most current information and counsel regarding legal and governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact us to answer any questions you may have.

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