CA COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On March 19th, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 reviving the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) that expired December 31st and applied to CA employers with over 500 U.S. employees. This emergency legislation applies to CA employers with 26 or more employees, and took effect immediately but provided a 10-day grace period for employers to start providing the leave. It also applies retroactively to January 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until September 30, 2021.
Which employees are eligible?
Employees not able to work or telework due to any of the covered reasons under this law qualify for SPSL. There is no length of service requirement for the leave entitlement.

What types of leave are covered?
Employees are entitled to leave for the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against COVID-19;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis;
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised to self-quarantine;
  • The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Employers may request reasonable supporting verification or documentation for these leaves.   

How much leave time do employees receive under this law?
Full-time employees, either classified as such by their employer or employees who worked on average 40 hours per week or more during the two weeks preceding leave start date, are entitled to 80 hours of SPSL.  For employees not classified as full-time, their regular schedule over two weeks is considered to determine amount of leave entitlement.
The amount paid for supplemental paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in aggregate. For non-exempt employees, there are two ways to calculate rate of pay for the leave – the highest rate is applicable. For exempt employees, the same rate the employer calculates for other forms of paid leave time is applied.  

How should employers apply the new law retroactive to January 1st?
Due to the retroactive effect of the legislation, employers will need to consider retroactive payments for leave. Any retroactive payment of leave must be paid on or before the payday for the next full pay period after the oral or written request of the employee.
Under SPSL, if an employer already provided a supplemental paid leave benefit to an employee for a qualifying leave taken on or after January 1, 2021, that compensates the employee in an amount equal to or greater than the law requires, then the employer may count those hours towards satisfaction of the requirements under this new legislation. Note, however, that in order to qualify to satisfy these requirements, the employee had to provide a supplemental benefit.  The required paid sick leave bank required under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, or pre-COVID paid sick and safe time law, or even 2020 SPSL requirements will not satisfy the requirement under this law.
Notice Requirements
Employers need to provide employees with notice of this new law: SPSL Notice. And Employers are required to provide employees with written notice of available SPSL, either on written notices or added to pay stubs where the SPSL balance is differentiated from pre-COVID statutory Paid Sick Leave.  The requirement to provide SPSL balances to employees becomes enforceable at the next full pay period following the date that the law takes effect on March 29, 2021.

SPSL 2021 FAQs
The State’s Department of Industrial Relations released an FAQ for employers regarding this new law: FAQ-for-SPSL-2021.