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California COVID-19 Sick Leave is Back!

by Jennifer Shaw | | February 3, 2022

Well, it’s finally here. AB 84 was placed in print today. The Legislature has not approved it yet, but apparently will do so next week.  If approved, we expect the Governor to sign it without delay (and it will be effective within 10 days). (Of course, anything can happen between now and then.  Or in the next five minutes.)

Here are the highlights of the bill as currently drafted:

  • Employers with 26 or more employees are covered.
  • The law will be retroactive to January 1, 2022, and expire on September 30, 2022.
  • Two categories of paid leave will be available (each with a 40-hour cap for full-time employees).
  • The first category generally mirrors last year’s SB 95 COVID-19 sick leave, with two new additions (which are underlined below):
    • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace. If the employee is subject to more than one of the foregoing, the employee may use COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for the minimum quarantine or isolation period under the order or guidelines that provides for the longest such minimum period.
    • 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 for themselves or a family member to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (limited to 24 hours per vaccination).
    • The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccination that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework (limited to 24 hours per vaccination).
    • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
    • The employee is caring for a family member, as defined in subdivision (c) of Labor Code Section 245.5, who is subject to an order or guidelines described above or who has been advised to self-quarantine, as described above.
    • The employee is caring for a child, as defined in subdivision (c) of Labor Code Section 245.5, whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.
  • The second category applies only if the employee or a family member for whom they are providing care tests positive for COVID-19.  Employers may request appropriate documentation of a positive test, and deny leave if the employee refuses to test or provide documentation. Employers must pay for employee tests, but it is unclear whether family tests also will be the employer’s responsibility.
  • It appears that the same benefit amounts provided in the 2021 SB 95 sick leave law will apply. (A maximum of $511 per day, or $5,110 total.)
  • The Labor Commissioner will issue a model notice that must be posted in the workplace and electronically distributed to remote workers.
  • Employers will be required to show on paystubs the amount of COVID-19 supplemental sick leave the employees has used.

Ok.  I know you want that to be all.  Me, too. There’s more.  Employers CANNOT require employees to exhaust AB 84 sick leave before becoming eligible for exclusion pay under the Cal/OSHA ETS.  Umm.  Really?

Stay tuned.

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