On September 29, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 152 (AB 152), which immediately extends the availability of COVID-19 paid supplemental sick leave for covered employees through December 31, 2022.
California’s existing COVID-19 supplemental sick leave law, Senate Bill 114 (SB 114), required employers with more than 25 employees to provide covered employees up to a total 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. Under SB 114, COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave was available to covered employees between January 1, 2022, and September 30, 2022. The qualifying reasons for which COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave can be used, as well as the other requirements of SB 114, were detailed in our prior alert and can be found here.
AB 152 amends Sections 248.6 and 248.7 of the Labor Code to allow covered employees, i.e., those who are unable to work due to certain COVID-19-related reasons, to take COVID-19 supplemental sick leave through December 31, 2022. Importantly, AB 152 does not entitle covered employees to a new bank of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick but rather extends the period in which such leave may be taken. That is, a covered employee is entitled to a maximum 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. This means employees who have already used their full allotment of COVID-19 paid sick leave prior to the enactment of AB 152 will not receive additional COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
Under existing law, if an employee is taking COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave after testing positive for COVID-19, an employer may require the employee to submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day after the initial positive test. AB 152 authorizes employers to require a second diagnostic test from employees within 24 hours of testing positive and makes clear that employers are not obligated to provide additional COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to employees who refuse to submit COVID-19 tests at the request of the employer. Any diagnostic testing required by an employer must be made available to employees at no cost.
AB 152 also extends COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for certain in-home supportive service providers and waiver personal car service providers who are unable to work due to certain COVID-19 reasons through December 31, 2022. Finally, AB 152 establishes a grant program to assist qualified small businesses or nonprofits that are incurring costs for COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
We recommend employers revisit their COVID-19 paid leave operations based upon the extension of California’s supplemental paid sick leave through the end of the year. The California Labor Commissioner’s office has also issued an FAQ on supplemental paid sick leave which will be updated.
OMLO will continue to monitor these developments carefully. This article is for informational purposes only and only provides an overview of specific developments. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation. For actual legal advice and specifics pertaining to your governmental entity, please contact your OMLO attorney for assistance.