Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jul 23, 2020

CALIFORNIA: More localities enact emergency paid sick leave

COVID-19Leave Laws 

The cities of Sacramento and Santa Rosa, along with San Mateo County, have added to the growing list of local areas in California to offer supplemental emergency paid sick leave (EPSL). In addition to EPSL, the Sacramento ordinance adds employer safety practices and protocols that must also be implemented. Several similar EPSL ordinances have been passed over the last several weeks; you can find links to past Vigilant articles about these ordinances on our COVID-19 resources page. Below are summaries of the newly enacted ordinances for Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and San Mateo County.

Sacramento (city):
The Sacramento Worker Protection, Health, and Safety Act took effect on June 30, 2020. One part of the ordinance applies to businesses with 500 or more workers nationally. It grants employees who work within the city of Sacramento up to 80 hours of supplemental EPSL. Employers of health care providers and emergency responders may exclude them from coverage. In addition to mirroring the leave reasons under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), this ordinance offers time off because (1) the employee chooses to take leave because they’re over the age of 65 or considered vulnerable due to a compromised immune system; or (2) the employee is off work because their workplace temporarily ceases operation due to a public health order or other public official’s recommendation. Pay is at the employee’s regular rate of pay (capped at $511 per day or $5,110 in total) except when leave is used to care for a family member, in which case you may pay two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate (capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in total). Covered employers may offset these leave entitlements with any additional COVID-related paid sick leave they granted since March 19, 2020, plus any paid sick leave for food sector workers under California Executive Order N-51-20.

The second part of the ordinance applies to all employers operating a business within the city limits of Sacramento. The ordinance establishes detailed physical distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols. These include actions such as establishing a plan for what to do upon discovering that the worksite was exposed to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 and providing face coverings for employees to wear at work. Covered employers must inform all employees of the required protocols in writing, in English and any language spoken by at least ten percent of the employees at the worksite.
Santa Rosa (city):
Santa Rosa’s temporary sick leave ordinance took effect on July 7, 2020. It covers private employers with 500 or more employees nationally. It also covers smaller employers (i.e., those covered by the FFCRA) to the extent the ordinance provides additional benefits for EPSL. Workers who have worked at least two hours in the city of Santa Rosa are eligible for up to 80 hours of supplemental EPSL for the same covered reasons provided for under the FFCRA, plus the addition of caring for someone who is “otherwise unable to receive care due to COVID-19.” There is no minimum length of employment. Pay is capped at $511 per day or $5,110 in total for all covered EPSL reasons (unlike FFCRA, which requires only two-thirds pay when the employee is caring for someone else).

In contrast to the FFCRA, health care providers and emergency responders are included. Also, there is no requirement for eligible employees to be unable to work and/or telework. Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to provide supplemental EPSL for employees needing to provide child care if doing so would jeopardize the viability of the small business as a going concern. Also, employers may offset the new entitlements against any additional COVID-19 related paid sick leave they granted beyond regular leave accruals or entitlements as of July 7, 2020.

San Mateo (county):
The ordinance enacted by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors expands EPSL to employees working in the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County who are employed by businesses with 500 or more employees nationally. Beginning July 8, 2020, employers must grant up to 80 hours of supplemental EPSL, paid at the employees’ regular rate of pay with a cap of $511 per day and $5,110 in total, regardless of the reason for leave. Employees who performed any work within unincorporated San Mateo County since January 1, 2020 (excluding food sector workers covered by California Executive Order N-51-20) are eligible if they cannot work or telework for reasons listed in the ordinance. The reasons mostly track those in the FFCRA, although the ordinance doesn’t mention the employee being subject to a local, state or federal quarantine or isolation order. It also adds “senior care provider” to the provision allowing time off because a school or childcare provider is unavailable, and expands the cause of the unavailability beyond COVID-19 to any recommendation of a public official. Requests for supplemental EPSL must be in writing. The ordinance allows employers to deny caregiver leave for health care providers, certain aviation security workers, and emergency responders.

Tips: All three ordinances are set to expire on December 31, 2020, unless extended. If your employees perform work within the cities of Sacramento or Santa Rosa or within San Mateo County, review the applicable EPSL ordinance to ensure compliance with the requirements. For questions, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.