Just when California was nearly finished with supplemental COVID-19 sick leave (SPSL), Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 152, which immediately extends SPSL through the end of the year. Here’s everything you need to know about the SPSL extension. As before, this law still applies to employers with 26 or more employees, and the same qualifying reasons apply to employees who need to take sick leave. The qualifying reasons for taking leave under prior law are unchanged, and include an employee or family member’s quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, caring for a child whose school or place of care has closed due to COVID-19, or an employee or family member’s vaccine/booster appointment or their experiencing side effects as a result of a vaccine or booster. See the Department of Industrial Relations’ 2022 SPSL FAQ for a refresher on the particular requirements.
No New Leave Bank – fortunately for CA employers, the extension does not require employers to provide a new bank of leave. Meaning, if an employee has used all his or her available SPSL hours (up to 80 under prior law) before October 1, 2022 and needs to take leave again for another qualifying reason, the employee will need to use other pay or wage replacement benefit in order to receive payment while out.
However, if an employee has not used any SPSL before October 1st, or has used a portion of their available leave, the employee must be permitted to access the remaining SPSL.
Amendments to Current Law – previously, SPSL provided two separate “banks” of 40 hours for employees unable to work or telework for a qualifying reason. Now, if an employee tests positive and the employer requires the employee to submit to a diagnostic test after five days which also shows a positive result, the employer can require the employee to submit to a second diagnostic test within 24 hours of the prior test. Employers are not required to provide SPSL for employees who test positive and refuse to provide documentation of the positive result, or refuse to undergo the diagnostic testing described above.
Nonprofit and Small Business Relief Grant – another employer-friendly amendment to SPSL allows for certain qualifying small businesses to apply for a relief grant of up to $50,000. To qualify, certain small businesses and nonprofits must have the following:
However, there are roughly 11 exceptions under Section 12100.965(h)(2) which exclude certain businesses from being eligible for this grant, so be sure to thoroughly check the requirements before applying. Please be advised the grant money is capped at a $50,000 and shall “only be for reimbursement of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave provided between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.” (Section 12100.975(g), emphasis added).
Lastly, there are a number of local SPSL ordinances still in effect including but not limited to Long Beach, city of Los Angeles, unincorporated Los Angeles County, and Oakland, among others. As these ordinances may apply to your business. As always, MMC is here to assist with any questions on the SPSL extension or the small business/nonprofit grant, so please contact HRServices@mmchr.com today.