Employment Law Update – COVID-19: SUPPLEMENTAL SICK LEAVE AND RULES CONCERNING THE WORKPLACE

by Gerald Sauer and Sonya Goodwin

Supplemental Sick Leave Bill

Governor Newsom signed SB 95 on March 19 which requires an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave, retroactive to January 1, 2021, for employees who work for public or private employers with more than 25 employees.  
Employees are entitled to leave for the following reasons: 

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against COVID-19;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis;
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised to self-quarantine;
  • The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Guidelines For The Workplace

In light of the reopening of many businesses due to the decrease in coronavirus cases, many employers and employees have questions concerning their rights. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) recently issued a bulletin that provides clarity in dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace. The highlights include the following:

  • Employers can ask all employees entering the workplace if they have had COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Employers can measure an employee’s body temperature for the limited purpose of evaluating if the employee may have COVID-19.
  • Employers can require that employees submit to viral testing before allowing the employee to enter the workplace.
  • Employers can require employees to wear personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Employers can send employees home if they present COVID-19 symptoms or if they have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, employers are required to keep the employee’s identity confidential and take any steps necessary to prevent other employees from being infected.
  • Employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave under the California Family Rights Act to care for their or their family members serious illness.
  • Employers can require that their employees receive FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Gerald Sauer or Sonya Goodwin. For more details, please review the DFEH bulletin

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