end of state mask mandate

The Return of Statewide Covid-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave and the End of the Statewide Mask Mandate

It’s been a busy week at the Governor’s office …

1. The return of statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave

On February 9, 2022, Governor Newsom signed SB-114, which brings back COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“SPSL”) through September 30, 2022.

When will the bill take effect?

The bill becomes effective 10 days after the Governor signs (February 9, 2022), and is set to expire on September 30, 2022.

Which employers are affected?

The bill would apply to all businesses with 26 or more employees, similar to the law created in 2021 that provided 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave, which expired on Sept. 30. Though smaller employers are exempt, they should be mindful of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA’s) exclusion pay requirement as well as other applicable state and local requirements to provide supplemental paid sick leave benefits (e.g., unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County or regular sick leave under Labor Code Sec. 246).

Which employees are eligible?

Employers would be required to provide SPSL to workers who are unable to work because:

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period as required under an order or guidance.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  • The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a vaccine or a vaccine booster for protection against COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster, that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an isolation or quarantine order or guidance as described, or who has been advised to isolate or quarantine by a health care provider.
  • The 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.

How much SPSL are employees entitled to?

Full time employees are entitled to 40 hours of SPSL, and an additional 40 hours if they, or a family member, tested positive for COVID-19.

Part-time employees with a regular schedule are entitled to SPSL and additional SPSL in proportion to their schedule. Part-time employees with a variable schedule are entitled to SPSL and additional SPSL based on average amount of hours worked in the six months prior to employee’s leave.

Employers may limit the amount of time taken for vaccine/booster purposes (including symptoms) to three days or 24 hours, unless the employee provides supporting medical certification.

What documentation requirements are there?

If an employee or an employee’s family member tests positive, the employer may ask for documentation and may refuse to provide additional SPSL if an employee fails to provide the requested documentation. The requirement to show proof also applies to an employee’s request for retroactive payment of SPSL (see below).

Employers must provide written notice to employees setting forth the amount of SPSL that employees have used on either employees’ wage statements or in separate writings provided on the designated pay date. If employees did not use any SPSL, employers should state “zero hours used.” (Note that this is different from listing regular sick leave, where the paystubs must list the unused amount of sick leave.)

Employers are also required to post a notice about the new supplemental paid sick leave benefit in the workplace (or, for remote employees, distribute the notice electronically), and the California Labor Commissioner will make a model poster available for use within the next week.

How will SPSL interact with exclusion pay?

Generally, Cal/OSHA requires employers to provide exclusion pay benefits if an employee needs to be excluded from work due to COVID-19 workplace exposure, and the employee cannot telework or does not receive other benefits. When the previous supplemental paid sick leave requirement was in effect (SB 95), Cal/OSHA permitted employers to require employees to exhaust supplemental paid sick leave benefits during such exclusion period. SB 114 says the opposite: employers cannot require employees to use SPSL during the exclusion period. So employees who are excluded from the workplace under the Cal/OSHA ETS can maintain their full supplemental sick leave entitlement.

What about previous unpaid absences?

The bill provides that it is retroactive to January 1, 2022. So employees who were absent from work due to COVID-19 between January 1, 2022 and the SPSL’s effective date and did not receive pay, may ask for retroactive SPSL payments. However, employers who paid for COVID-19 related absences may credit such payments against employees’ SPSL entitlement. Hours provided under California’s sick leave law cannot be used as credit against an employee’s SPSL entitlement, but hours provided under federal or local law can be used as credit.

2. End of statewide mask mandate

On Monday, February 7, 2022, California health officials said a statewide mask mandate, introduced in mid-December and extended in January until February 15, 2022, will not be further extended beyond that date. They noted that even beyond February 15, 2022, unvaccinated individuals will still be required to wear masks in indoor public settings, and that local governments can continue their own indoor masking requirements. Health officials in Los Angeles County, which has an independent mask mandate, said they intend to keep theirs in place beyond the state deadline.

If you have any questions about the above, please contact our office at (818) 591-6724.


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Posted in CalOSHA Rules, Covid-19, Employment Law Updates, Mask Mandates, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .