04.21.2021 | COVID-19 | Newsletters

California COVID-19 Sick Leave – Retroactive to January 1, 2021

Sick Leave

With the expiration of the required federal COVID-19 paid sick leave at the end of 2020, California enacted a new COVID-19 paid sick leave law that requires employers of 25 or more employees to provide eighty (80) hours of paid sick leave to full-time employees, with a pro rata amount for part-time employees. The paid sick leave law expires on September 30, 2021.

The sick leave is available for the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period as defined by the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control, or applicable local health authority;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  • The employee is attending an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms related to getting the COVID-19 vaccine;
  • The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a public health quarantine or isolation period or who has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider; or
  • The employee is caring for a child whose school or child-care provider is closed or unavailable for COVID-19 related reasons.

Employers may still obtain a credit against payroll taxes for the compensation paid to employees because the federal COVID-19 relief law extended the availability of that tax credit.

The law is retroactive to January 1, 2021; meaning that if your employee took leave for a covered reason before the law was enacted and makes an oral or written request for benefits under the new law, you must provide payment, if the prior leave was unpaid, and you may need to replace hours in the employee’s regular sick leave or vacation bank and instead deduct them from the COVID-19 sick leave bank.

You must include the amount of COVID-19 sick leave available to the employee on your pay stubs or separate writing (just like you have to do for your regular California Paid Sick Leave.) Be sure you provide your employees with the required notice of the availability of these new leave benefits. You can obtain the Labor Commissioner’s poster for this purpose.

You should review the guidance issued by the Labor Commissioner’s office for details on when and how you can ask for documentation of the need for the leave, calculating the number of hours employees are entitled to, and the applicable rates of pay.

Related practice team: Labor and Employment

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