Legislators in Sacramento have fast-tracked new legislation that will extend paid COVID-19 leave benefits for workers in California.
AB 84, which Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised to sign, would require employers with 26 or more workers to provide up to 40 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work on site or remotely for one of a number of reasons.
The legislation is retroactive to Jan. 1. Under the legislation anyone who was unable to work due to the COVID-related reasons below since Jan. 1 would qualify for paid leave.
- The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 under health authorities’ guidance (Centers for Disease Control, the state Department of Public Health or a local health office).
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- 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 prevents the employee from being able to work or telework (limited to 24 hours per vaccination).
- The employee is caring for a family member who’s subject to a government quarantine, isolation order or guidance; or who has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine.
- The covered 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.
Here’s the catch, though: Under the proposed law, employees could actually qualify for an additional 40 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if they test positive for COVID-19 or are caring for a family member who tested positive.
If that happens, then the employer could require the employee or infected family member to obtain a test on the fifth day after a positive test. If the employee refuses to get tested or disclose test results, the employer could deny the additional paid sick leave, under the proposal.
Employers would be required to pay for the tests of their workers. The maximum amount of paid sick leave per day an employer would be obligated to pay is $511.
The measure builds on a similar law that took effect last year, also requiring employers to pay sick leave to workers for COVID-19-related reasons.
AB 84 is currently a bill, but it could add another compliance challenge for employers. We’ll keep you posted on the measure if it makes it to the governor’s desk.