California Extends COVID-19 Leave Through December 31, 2022
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed AB 152 into law, extending Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) through December 31, 2022. SPSL, which requires California employers with over 26 employees to provide up to 80 hours paid leave for qualifying COVID-19 reasons to covered employees, was previously set to expire on September 30.
Employees are entitled to use SPSL for a variety of reasons, including when they take time off to get the vaccine, if they are out sick due to COVID-19, or if they are caring for a family member who is sick due to COVID-19. More details can be found here. Note that SPSL must be provided in addition to any existing sick leave or PTO bank. If qualified employees previously used regular sick leave or PTO for COVID-19 related absences in 2022, they are entitled to a credit for those leave hours.
While AB 152 allows employees more time to access their allotted SPSL hours, it does not entitle employees who have already accessed their leave bank to more or renewed hours. Additionally, the qualifying leave reasons, criteria for coverage, and definitions remain the same.
AB 152 clarifies employers’ ability to deny additional SPSL where an employee fails to provide additional diagnostic testing in certain cases. Covered employees are entitled to 40 hours of COVID-19 leave for qualifying reasons without having to provide documentation of a positive test. Employees are entitled to an additional 40 hours of SPSL if the covered employee, or a family member whom the employee is caring for, tests positive for COVID-19. Employers are not required to provide the additional SPSL if the employee refuses to provide documentation of the positive test result. Additionally, employers are authorized to require the covered employee who tests positive (or is caring for a positive family member) to submit a second test at least five days after first testing positive. Under AB 152, if the employee’s second test is positive, employers are authorized to request an additional diagnostic test within 24 hours of the second test. The employer is required to provide both tests at no cost to the employee. If the employee fails to take the tests authorized by the employer as described, the employer may deny SPSL for the days after the employer provides the test.
Finally, AB 152 establishes a COVID-19 relief grant program for qualifying small business and nonprofits that are incurring costs for COVID-19 SPSL, to be administered by the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. This provision will be repealed on January 1, 2024.