The California Labor Commissioner has published updated FAQs about the COVID-19 2022 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) law, which applies to employers with 26 or more employees. As we previously reported, the 2022 SPSL law (SB 114) took effect on February 19, 2022, requiring covered employers to provide SPSL to employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), retroactive to January 1, 2022 and continuing through September 30, 2022. The updated FAQs reflect the differences between the 2022 SPSL law and last year’s SPSL law, and address several topics including reasons for taking leave, leave requests, calculating hours of leave, and payment of leave. Here are a few highlights:
Two banks of leave: The guidance explains that two different “banks” of leave are available for employees. The first bank can be used for seven qualifying reasons, such as caring for oneself or a family member due to COVID-19 symptoms, quarantining after an exposure, getting vaccinated, and recovering from vaccine-related side effects. The second bank is available if an employee, or a family member who is being cared for by the employee, tests positive for COVID-19.
Clarification on quarantine and isolation period: The guidance clarifies that a general stay-at-home order would not qualify as a “quarantine or isolation period” under the new law, and that the quarantine or isolation order or guidance must be specific to the employee’s circumstances (such as the need to quarantine after the employee is exposed to COVID-19). The guidance also provides a link to the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) website for further guidance about applicable isolation and quarantine periods.
Examples of retroactive requests: The guidance provides examples of what a retroactive request for SPSL by an employee might look like. For instance, one example describes an employee who makes an oral or written request after February 19, 2022, to be paid for two hours of time they took off work to attend a vaccine appointment in January 2022.
Documentation for leave requests: The guidance addresses questions about when employers can and cannot request documentation and medical certification from employees taking SPSL. For example, FAQ #19 says that although employers generally can’t require medical certification before allowing employees to take leave, in certain circumstances it may be reasonable to ask for documentation before paying for the leave time, such as when the employer has information indicating that an employee is not taking leave for a valid purpose.
Tips: One of our recent articles has suggestions about how to approach adopting an SPSL policy and informing your employees of that policy. If you have any questions about California’s 2022 SPSL law, see our Model Policy, 2022 California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Policy or contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.