For employers with more than 500 employees nationwide, COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirements now apply to employees working in the Golden State. While the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) law effective April 1, 2020, exempted large employers, California law now requires the same benefits be provided to employees who work for most large employers. AB 1867, which was signed by the Governor on September 9, 2020, requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to those employees based in California, even if most of the 500 employees are based out of state. The supplemental sick leave applies to “covered workers” for any of the following reasons:
(A) The covered worker is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
(B) The covered worker is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19.
(C) The covered worker is prohibited from working by the covered worker’s hiring entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.
The reasons to take leave appear broader than the FFCRA. It is also important to note that whereas the FFCRA provides a payroll tax credit for qualified amounts spent providing paid sick leave, no similar tax credit applies here. Regardless of how much an employee earns, a hiring entity shall not be required to pay more than five hundred eleven dollars ($511) per day and five thousand one hundred ten dollars ($5,110) in the aggregate to a covered worker for COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave taken by the worker. This new benefit is set to expire on December 31, 2020, or upon the expired of any federal extension of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave established by the federal FFCRA, whichever is later.
Another key difference from the federal law is that the new statute requires employers to update their wage statements to provide notice of the amount of paid sick leave available under this provision. A separate line item on employee’s itemized paystubs should be added indicating “COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave” balances to avoid penalties set forth under Labor Code.
As a budget bill, the measure was effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature, but the requirement to provide leave is in effect as of September 19, 2020. Liability for updating wage statements will not take effect until the pay period following enactment. This means employers will want to notify their payroll departments of this potential change so that compliant paystubs can be issued as soon as necessary.
Covered employers must also issue the DLSE Model Notice to its employees informing them of their right to this Supplemental Leave. If a hiring entity’s covered workers do not frequent a workplace, the hiring entity may satisfy the notice requirement of subdivision (a) of Section 247 by disseminating notice through electronic means, such as by electronic mail.
This new emergency paid sick is effective until December 31, 2020 or upon expiration of any federal extension of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act established by the FFCRA, whichever is later.