Here is installment #25 of our ongoing series of COVID-related posts of interest to California employers.
As of this writing, 12/26, it looks like Congress is NOT extending the “FFCRA” mandatory paid sick leave or special COVID expanded Family and Medical Leave past 12/31/20 for employers of under 500 workers. (That program was set to expire 12/31/20 unless it was extended).
It may be that the final federal stimulus bill, if it ever gets enacted, includes “tax credits” for employers voluntarily willing to provide COVID-related paid sick leave after 12/31/20.
It also may be that a new Congress and administration enact another paid sick leave mandate. But as of now, no one knows.
What about California?
California’s AB 1867, mandating “supplemental COVID sick leave” for employers of > 500 workers, set forth at Labor Code sections 248 and 248.1 will expire on December 31, 2020 as well. The Legislature is not back until January 4, 2021. So, those Labor Code sections will expire at the end of the year. But when the Legislature returns, there may be action to extend the law, even retroactively.
Several California cities and counties have enacted Supplemental Sick Leave Ordinances as well. These also apply only to the employers of > 500 workers to “fill the gap” that the FFCRA left unaddressed. San Francisco, Los Angeles, LA County, San Jose, Oakland, Sonoma, Sacramento, are just some of the jurisdictions with these ordinances in place.
Some of these localities are considering, or have passed, extensions to their supplemental paid sick leave ordinances.. This doesn’t necessarily mean MORE paid sick leave. That is, if employees have used the 80 hours of paid sick leave in 2020, they do not receive new supplemental leave in 2021. An extension may mean, however, that employees have more time to take the supplemental paid sick leave that the ordinances originally granted.
It is imperative for employers to check local city and county websites to check (1) whether there is a local ordinance requiring COVID supplemental sick leave (2) whether the ordinance expires on December 31 or has been extended.
California Healthy Families Sick Leave
The new year means that many California employees will have paid sick leave available under both state law, and under local ordinances such as San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, etc. These general sick leave laws operate independently from the Supplemental Sick Leave laws. Some employers grant lump sums of sick leave under state law. Others allow sick leave to accrue as employees work.
So, employers must ensure that employees are not deprived of their rights to paid sick leave in the new year, whether under federal, state, or local laws.
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The bottom line is that the paid sick leave issue remains unsettled for California businesses. Employers must remain nimble and check with counsel or research current developments after the new year.