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Alerts and Updates

California's COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law: No Longer Effective, but Employers Beware

January 5, 2021

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Accordingly, California’s supplemental paid sick leave requirements are no longer effective as of January 1, 2021.

On September 9, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom enacted a law requiring all California employers with more than 500 employees, as well as certain industries exempted from the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act (FFCRA), to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) to employees for COVID-related reasons. See our September 17, 2020, Alert.

As drafted, this law was set to sunset on the later of December 31, 2020, or upon the expiration of any extension of Emergency Paid Sick Leave under the FFCRA. As of the date of this Alert, Congress has not extended the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave requirements; thus, allowing it to lapse as of January 1, 2021. Accordingly, California’s supplemental paid sick leave requirements are no longer effective as of January 1, 2021.

However, California employers should proceed with caution and take care to not pull the proverbial rug out from under employees who were availing themselves of available SPSL prior to December 31 and who, but for its sunset, had SPSL leave remaining or seek to remain on leave into 2021. The California Department of Industrial Relations contemplates, for example:

[A]n employee who exhibited symptoms and was recommended to isolate on December 28, 2020 may continue to utilize the SPSL they would be entitled to even if that isolation is required to extend into 2021, and be paid for the time according to the requirements of the SPSL law.

Employers should consult with experienced California employment-law counsel for guidance in navigating the implications of the SPSL, post its December 31, 2020, “sunset.” Moreover, it is possible that with a new administration and incoming Congress, there may be further developments relating to the FFCRA, which may impact the expiry date for the SPSL. Employers should continue to monitor for such updates to ensure compliance. In the interim, employers should ensure they comply with existing state, local and municipal mandatory paid-sick leave laws.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help employers plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Eve I. Klein, Meagan E. Garland, Sarah A. Gilbert, any of the attorneys in our Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.