Department of Industrial Relations Releases Guidance on COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave
On February 19, 2022, California’s updated COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) laws took effect. The Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement has published an FAQ explaining the ins and outs of the law, which shares similarities with last year’s SPSL.
In essence, California has authorized up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees impacted by COVID-19. These hours are split into two categories: 40 hours for COVID-19 related leave, and 40 hours of leave for actually becoming sick with COVID-19 (or caring for a family member who has become sick with COVID-19).
COVID-19 related leave can include leaving work to get the vaccine or take a family member to be vaccinated, quarantining, or caring for a child whose school has closed due to COVID-19 concerns. Employees who are actually infected by COVID-19 (and can demonstrate proof of this via positive COVID-19 test results) are eligible for up to 40 additional hours of paid sick leave.
A New Required Poster
Employers are now required to print and display the updated 2022 SPSL poster in a common area in the workplace (an employee breakroom or similar). Employers are also required to email the poster to such employees who work exclusively or predominantly from home.
The new leave is retroactive. This means that employees can seek retroactive SPSL payments for any qualified absences between January 1, 2022 and February 19, 2022. Employers should discuss the implications of this with their payroll and HR personnel and consultants.
Recording SPSL and Retaining Records
Employers must track 2022 SPSL used by employees. An accounting of SPSL hours must be included either on each employee’s paystub, or in a separate SPSL-specific document provided to the employee simultaneously with their paycheck. Unlike 2021’s SPSL recording requirements, employers must now list the utilized SPSL hours, rather than listing the quantity available to the employee. If an employee has not taken any 2022 SPL, they must still show “zero SPSL hours” (or similar language) on their paystub or SPSL-specific document. California employers must retain these records for a minimum of three years. Again, employers must communicate with their payroll and HR personnel about these important details of the new law.
California employers will find the 2022 SPSL requirements familiar – they are similar to last year’s requirements. While the pandemic appears to be relenting, vigilance to the law remains important, not only for purposes of avoiding liability, but for the more important reason of maintaining a safe workplace. California employers should review the FAQ and reach out to employment counsel with questions.
If you have any questions or need counseling on other employment law challenges, Dunn, DeSantis, Walt & Kendrick, LLP can provide guidance to your business.