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California Paid Sick Leave Law

Posted on April 2, 2020 in Employment Law

California has enacted temporary new laws specifically related to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. As of April 1, 2020, if you are an employee at a company with fewer than 500 workers, you may receive expanded family and medical leave benefits as well as virus-related paid sick leave. Federal employees under Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act may also receive COVID-19 related paid sick leave.

California Paid Sick Leave Law

Existing California Paid Sick Leave Law

California’s existing paid sick leave law, the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014, is found in California Labor Code 245-249. This law says that after July 1, 2015, any employee who has worked for an employer for at least 30 days within one year of getting the job may become eligible for paid sick leave.

A worker will accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour of leave per 30 hours worked. An employer may use a different accruement rule as long as it at least meets the benefits as required by law. An employer must provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave upon the employee’s 120th day of employment. An employee can use paid sick leave accrued beginning on his or her 90th day of employment.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

California enacted a new law in response to the coronavirus, which has taken over 250 lives in the state as of April 2020. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires some employers to grant additional or expanded paid sick and medical leave for reasons connected to COVID-19. The provisions of the law will remain active until December 31, 2020.

  • Two weeks, up to 80 hours, of paid sick leave when an employee cannot work due to quarantine or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. The employer must provide this type of sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay. (Maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 total.)
  • Two weeks, up to 80 hours, of paid sick leave when the employee cannot work due to the need to care for a family member subject to quarantine or a family member who is under 18 and who cannot go to childcare due to COVID-19 related reasons, and/or if the employee has a similar situation. The employer must provide sick leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay in this situation. (Maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 total.)
  • Additional paid expanded family and medical leave, up to 10 weeks, when the employee has to leave work to care for a child whose school or daycare provider cannot due to COVID-19. The employee must have worked for the company for at least 30 days to qualify for this benefit. The pay rate is two-thirds of the regular working wage. (Maximum of $200 a day and $12,000 total.)

The new law will apply to private employers with less than 500 employees, as well as some public employers. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees might be exempt from the requirement to provide paid sick leave due to childcare unavailability if doing so would compromise the viability of the business.

Are You Eligible for Paid Sick Leave?

If the coronavirus has impacted your ability to go to work in California due to your physical health, that of a family member, a mandatory quarantine or lack of childcare availability, you may be eligible for additional paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. You might also qualify for leave under the state’s original paid sick leave requirements.

If you have questions about whether you qualify for leave, how much you can take and how much money you will receive while on leave connected to COVID-19, go to your employer first for answers. You can also consult a qualified Los Angeles employment lawyer if you have complaints about how your employer is handling your request for paid sick leave. An attorney may be able to help you enforce the new law and receive paid sick leave depending on the situation.