As part of the ongoing effort to address the effects of COVID-19 on businesses and employees, Governor Newsom issued an executive order providing Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for food sector workers.
Executive Order N-51-20, signed on April 16, 2020, gives paid leave to food sector company employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who were left out of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) passed by Congress in March. The FFCRA only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees while the executive order applies to food sector workers, including grocery, fast food, delivery, and farm workers of companies with more than 500 employees. The order also lets employees at food facilities wash their hands every 30 minutes, or as often as necessary, to protect both workers and consumers.
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
Under the new order, an employer must provide a food sector worker 80 hours of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) if the employee is full-time or was scheduled to work at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks preceding the date the employee took Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. Part-time or seasonal employees are eligible for SPSL on a reduced basis. The food sector worker must be paid their regular rate of pay for the last pay period or the state minimum wage or the local minimum wage, whichever is higher up to a cap of $511 per day and $5,110 for the 80 hour period.
To qualify for SPSL the food sector worker must perform work for or through a hiring entity with more than 500 employees nationwide and:
a. be an essential worker, exempt from the Stay-at-Home Order, issued by the Governor on March 19, 2020 (EO N-33-20);
b. perform work for the business outside the home; and
c. satisfy one of the following:
i. Work in one of the industries or occupations defined in Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order 3-2001 § 2(B) (the canning, freezing, and preserving industry); IWC Wage Order 8-2001 § 2(H) (industries processing agricultural products after harvest); IWC Wage Order 13-2001 § 2(H) (facilities on a farm that prepare products for market); or IWC Wage Order 14-2001 § 2(D) (general agricultural occupations);
ii. Work for a business that runs a food facility, which includes grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and distribution centers; or
iii. Deliver food from a food facility for or through a hiring entity.
Food sector employees under the executive order receive paid leave if they are:
- subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19, or
- advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19, or
- prohibited from working by the Food Sector Worker’s Hiring Entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.
However, if on April 16, 2020, the employer-provided, paid benefits that compensate workers for the same purposes as the executive order and at a level at least equal to the benefits provided under the executive order, that hiring entity does not have to provide SPSL.
In order to ensure compliance with this Order, Governor Newsom ordered the Labor Commissioner to enforce the provisions of the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. This leave will constitute “paid sick days” under the Labor Code for enforcement purposes.
The Order also requires all covered employers to post this Notice effective immediately. The Poster must be displayed where workers can easily read it. If workers do not frequent a physical workplace, it may be disseminated to workers electronically.