The Return of California’s Supplemental COVID-19 Sick Leave

California has been trying to balance opposing demands throughout the pandemic. On the one hand, the state government is dedicated to minimizing the infection rate as much as possible to protect residents. On the other, the lockdown measures that are most effective at protecting people also force them out of work, which has been disastrous to many of California’s lower-income families.

The solution Governor Newsom has settled upon for the moment is supplemental sick leave. While the initial supplemental sick leave program expired several months ago, as of February, the state has issued a new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (CSPSL) bill.

Through this program, you may be able to have the government protect and pay for your time off if you need to stay home from work due to a positive COVID-19 test. Here’s how the bill works and what it means for you.

What Is California’s Supplemental Pandemic Sick Leave

Two bills have granted California residents paid time off from work due to COVID-19 infections. The first, Senate Bill (SB) 95, expired at the end of September 2021. However, in February of this year, Governor Newsom signed SB 114 into law. This CSPSL bill went into effect on February 19th, but it applies retroactively back to January 1st of, 2022. You can use CSPSL for the time off you took in January and February.

The bill’s goal is to support people who have to take time off to quarantine with COVID-19. Companies with 26 or more employees must comply with the CSPSL law or face penalties. All employees at these companies are eligible to receive payment for the time they had to spend handling pandemic-related tasks based on their average pay rate for a workweek.

What the Return of Supplemental COVID-19 Sick Leave Means for You

CSPSL leave means that you can take time off to recover from COVID-19 without risking your income. You can take up to 80 hours of leave, divided into two “batches” of 40 hours each. You’re eligible to take time from the first batch if you’re:

  • Suffering from COVID-19 symptoms
  • Subject to a quarantine period
  • Getting a vaccination
  • Caring for someone experiencing any of these issues

You can draw from the second batch of hours if you or a family member you need to care for receives a positive COVID-19 test and can’t work from home. Depending on your circumstances, you can use either batch, so you don’t need to use the first batch up before you use the second.

Furthermore, your employer can’t force you to use other forms of sick leave before using your CSPSL time. If your time off is connected to the pandemic, you can use CSPSL first and still have your regular sick and vacation leave sitting in reserve.

Finally, if your employer meets the criteria, they must grant you CSPSL upon oral or written request. If they don’t, you can take legal action against them to protect your health and income.

Make Sure You’re Paid for Doing Your Part to End COVID-19

If you meet the criteria, you can use the new CSPSL law to recover or help your family heal from COVID-19 without losing income. Don’t let your employer force you to come to work sick. If your company is trying to make you use other sick leave first or otherwise give up your right to CSPSL, you should schedule a consultation with an experienced employment law attorney. They can help you fight for your right to time off and appropriate compensation under SB 114.