On Friday, March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 95 (“SB 95”), which provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. SB 95 will become effective on March 30, 2021 and will apply retroactively from January 1, 2021, until its expiration on September 30, 2021.
With the signing of SB 95, California law now requires mandatory paid sick leave for qualifying employees who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19. Importantly, this law modifies California Labor Code sections 248.2 and 248.3 and expands the paid sick leave provisions previously outlined in AB 1867. Under these new Labor Code sections, employees working for an entity of more than 25 employees may now take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- If the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace.
- If the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- If the employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19.
- If the employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
- If the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- If the employee is caring for a family member, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 245.5, who is subject to an order or guidelines described in subparagraph (A) or who has been advised to self-quarantine, as described in subparagraph (B).
- If the employee is caring for a child, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 245.5, whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.
Notably, the qualifying reasons for taking sick leave under SB 95, are more expansive than previously provided under the FFCRA and AB 1867 and include time off for employees obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine, or experiencing symptoms related to the vaccine. Available leave policies will be prorated for employees who work less than 40 hours per week.
Should you have any questions about the updated sick leave policies, and how these policies interact with your District's existing sick leave, feel free to contact us.
 Prior to December 31, 2020, California's Assembly Bill 1867 (“AB 1867”) provided supplemental paid sick leave for food service workers, employees of private entities of 500 employee or more, and some health care providers and emergency responders. This law was intended to fill the gaps in sick leave benefits left open by the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). On December 31, 2020, both AB 1867, and the mandatory leave benefits of the FFCRA expired, leaving employees without specific sick leave benefits related to COVID-19.