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This past Saturday, February 19, 2022, a new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) law took effect in California. Employers now must display a required notice or provide it electronically to remote employees. In addition, no later than the first full pay period following February 19, employers must include information on paystubs regarding the amount of SPSL used by employees.   

This new law is the latest in a line of COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave laws in California. It requires private employers with 26 or more employees to provide up to 80 hours (up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate) of leave for qualifying reasons. The law is retroactive to January 1, 2022, and expires on September 30, 2022. The provisions of the SPSL are in addition to the state and municipal paid sick leave requirements.

Covered employers are required to provide employees with written notice of the amount of SPSL the employee has used. Such written notice should be provided on the employee’s paystub, or in a separate writing provided on the employee’s regular pay date.

Unlike last year, the 2022 SPSL is split into two banks, up to 40 hours for each bank. One bank of SPSL is available only if an employee or a family member for whom they are providing care tests positive for COVID-19.

The other bank is available to covered employees who are unable to work or telework due to any of the following reasons: 

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine, or an isolation period related to COVID-19, by an order or guidance from the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or a local public health office with jurisdiction over the workplace.
  • A healthcare provider has directed the employee to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • The employee or the employee’s family member is receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
  • The employee or the employee’s family member (who is under the employee’s care) is experiencing symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine or booster, preventing the employee or the employee’s family member from working or teleworking.
  • The employee or employee’s family member (who is under the employee’s care) is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidance to quarantine or isolate, or who has been directed to self-isolate or quarantine by a healthcare provider.
  • 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.

Some additional differences from last year’s law are:

  • Employers may require employees using the bank of 40 hours for testing positive to submit to another test on or after the fifth day following the first positive test. Employers who require this must make such a test available at no cost to the employee.
  • Employers may limit leave to obtain a vaccine or recover from symptoms to three days or 24 hours, unless a healthcare provider verifies ongoing symptoms.
  • An employer cannot require that a covered employee exhaust SPSL before providing the employee with exclusion pay under Cal-OSHA due to a workplace exposure.

Finally, in addition to SPSL, a companion bill restores some state business tax credits from previous relief bills, including the net operating loss deduction.

Employers should ensure compliance with the notice and payroll requirements immediately, and ensure they have a process in place to address employee inquiries regarding this leave.