There have been many changes to California unemployment laws in the last year due to the pandemic.
In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a few executive orders in response to the federal Families First Response Act, including N-51-20, which provided sick leave to food service workers, and AB 1867 which extended that paid sick leave to employers with 500 or more employees.
When the Families First Response Act expired at the end of 2020, different counties and states revised their sick leave laws including California. The latest revision occurred on March 19, 2021 when Governor Newsom established a new more expansive COVID – 19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SB 95) program which:
- Grants employees up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave
- Applies to all employers with more than 25 employees
- Begins (retroactively) January 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021
Under SB – 95, employees qualify for paid sick leave if they are:
- Experiencing COVID – 19 symptoms
- Going to an appointment for COVID- 19 vaccine
- Are told to self-quarantine by a doctor
- Caring for a child because of a pandemic related school closure
- Caring for a family member experiencing COVID -19 symptoms
Full-time employees (employees scheduled to work 40 hours per week) are eligible for up to 80 hours of sick leave under SB – 95. Part-time employees are able to receive a leave amount equal to the number of hours they work in a two week period.
The rate of pay differs between exempt and non-exempt employees. Exempt employees rate is calculated the same way the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave.
Non- exempt employees must receive the highest rates of:
- The state minimum wage.
- The local minimum wage.
- Calculated by dividing employee’s total wages by total number of hours worked in full pay periods.
- Calculated as a regular workweek rate of pay in which employee uses supplemental paid sick leave.
Employers must give notice, in writing, to their employees about their rights under AB – 95. The supplemental paid sick leave must be shown in wage statements and distinctly separated from other paid sick days.
Dates and Expiration
The bill is set to be effective between the dates of January 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. But as the bill was signed March 28, 2021, the bill is in in effect retroactively, meaning that employers will have to make payments for leave that was taken between January 1 and March 28.
Although this sick leave law expires on September 30, 2021, employees already taking this supplemental leave may continue to do so past its expiration.