California Extends and Amends COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

Published October 10, 2022

By Shaye Schrick

In February 2022, pursuant to SB 114, California enacted new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“SPSL”) requirements for qualifying employees of employers with 26 or more employees.  More information about those requirements and employers’ obligations are located here.  SPSL was set to expire on September 30, 2022.

In anticipation of that expiration, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 152 on September 29, 2022, extending the expiration date until December 31, 2022, and setting forth additional amendments.  Significantly, AB 152 does not create a new leave bank.  It simply extends the time during which employees may use existing leave banks.  If employees previously used all available SPSL on or before September 30, 2022, they will not be entitled to additional SPSL thereafter under this law.  If, however, they have any remaining SPSL available, they will be able to use it for qualifying reasons through the end of 2022.

AB 152 also amends key aspects of SPSL related to testing and documentation.  Existing law does not obligate employers to provide additional SPSL to employees who refuse to provide documentation of test results where time off is taken because the employee or a family member for whom the employee is providing care tests positive for COVID-19.  In addition, under existing law, employers may require employees who take time off due to their own positive COVID-19 test result to submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day following the initial positive test and to provide documentation of those results to the employer.  Pursuant to AB 152’s amendments, if that test is also positive, employers may also require the employee to submit to an additional test after at least 24 hours, and employers may deny additional SPSL to employees who refuse to submit to these tests.  In all cases, employers must make tests available at no cost to employees.

Finally, AB 152 establishes the California Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Relief Grant Program available to certain small employers to cover the actual costs incurred for providing SPSL between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, up to $50,000.

In addition to California’s state-wide SPSL, some cities and counties maintain their own local COVID-16 sick pay laws.  Employers should consult legal counsel to confirm whether they are subject to any additional obligations.

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