Although signs are positive that the COVID-19 Pandemic is waning, there are still active cases. Employers cannot become complacent in responding to COVID-19 related illnesses, and the legal exposure that comes with it.
An important reminder, as of March 29, 2021, with the passage of Senate Bill 95, both public and private sector employees who work for employers with more than 25 employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related sick leave from January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. This law applies retroactively and covers employees who were sick prior to the March 29th effective date.
So, what does this mean? If an employee is unable to work, or telework, due to a COVID-19 related illness, caring for a family member due to a COVID-19 related illness or taking time to get vaccinated, the employee is entitled to paid leave. This includes any time needed to recover from the effects of a COVID-19 vaccine. When in doubt, the employee should be covered.
The law provides up to 80 hours of paid leave, and requires employers compensate the impacted employee at their regular rate of pay. There is a not-to-exceed rate of $511 per day or $5,110 in total under this particular law.
As with most public health laws, there are requirements for employers to post this information in a conspicuous place. Retaliation and/or discrimination against an employee exercising their right to paid leave can result in fines and penalties by the California Labor Commissioner. To that end, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office has implemented new online eligibility tools which assist employees in determining whether they qualify for paid leave, with links to grievance reporting which allows the employee to directly file a wage claim with the State.
We anticipate that the Labor Commissioner will aggressively pursue employers who violate this very specific law, so please ensure that you are in full compliance.
For more information on this please contact Principal Attorney Colin McCarthy, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information contained in this post has been prepared by Lanak & Hanna, P.C. for educational and informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, nor does it substitute for legal advice.