The employment team at Michelman & Robinson, LLP has some important news for California employees: Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 152 into law last week, which, effective immediately, serves to extend Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) for covered employees—those unable to work because of certain COVID-19 reasons—to December 31, 2022. Prior to the swipe of Governor Newsom’s pen, SPSL in California was due to expire on September 30.
No New Responsibilities for Employers
AB 152 does not impose any additional or new leave bank for employees or create further obligations or restrictions upon employers as compared to its previous incarnation. Accordingly, employees that have used all their available SPSL hours before October 1 and experience other qualifying absences between now and year-end will need to use different pay or wage replacement benefits (e.g., non-COVID paid sick leave, vacation time or California Disability Insurance) to receive payment. However, employees who still have SPSL remaining will have access to this benefit for the remainder of 2022, assuming they experience a qualifying absence.
Right to Request Follow-Up Testing Revamped
Of note, an employer’s SPSL obligations are not without condition. Previously—under California’s 2022 COVID-19 SPSL law in place prior to AB 152—when an employee requested SPSL after an initial positive test, employers were only authorized to require another test five days later. The rub was that employees could remain on SPSL for several days thereafter so long as they tested positive, and employers were left with no form of recourse. This is no longer the case, which is a positive for management. Do not hesitate to contact Lara Shortz or Derrick Fong-Stempel for details on this development.
Relief Program for Small Businesses
Beyond all of the above, AB 152 includes the California Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Relief Grant Program, established to give up to $50,000 to qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to pay for SPSL. This portion of the law—set to be repealed on January 1, 2024—includes several exemptions that exclude certain entities from eligibility. If interested in learning more, please reach out to Lara or Derrick.
AB 152: the Takeaway for Employers
Now that AB 152 is on the books, employers should be prepared to do all of the following:
- Pay SPSL to eligible employees;
- Continue to report SPSL payments on wage statements;
- Consider amending existing COVID paid leave policies and procedures; and
- Pay for all COVID-19 testing and compensate non-exempt employees for related time.
Of course, the employment lawyers at M&R are here to answer any COVID-19-related questions you may have.
This blog post is not offered, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.