Governor Newsom is set to sign an extension of the paid supplemental sick leave that employers of 25 or more must offer to employees for COVID-19 related reasons. The existing requirement is set to expire on September 30thbut will be almost certainly be extended through the end of this year. While on the surface this may seem like an additional burden for employers, the extension comes with several employer friendly revisions to the requirements. Once signed by the Governor, which should be any day now, the bill will take effect immediately.

While many of the requirements remain the same, the new regulation adds some employer friendly changes.

  • First, if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and the employer requires the employee to submit to a diagnostic test consistent with current CDPH guidelines and the employee’s results come back positive, the employer may require the employee to take another test within 24 hours. This can provide another opportunity for the employee to test negative and return to work sooner.
  • Second, if the employee fails to provide proof of the positive test, the employer does not have to provide supplemental sick leave to that employee.
  • Third, the new regulation establishes a grant program to assist small businesses and non-profits which incur supplemental sick leave costs up to $50,000. To qualify, the small business or non-profit must: (1) be a “C” or “S” corporation, cooperative, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, or a registered 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19); (2) have begun operating before June 1, 2021; (3) be currently active and operating; (4) have 26 to 49 employees and provide payroll data and an affidavit attesting to that fact; (5) have provided supplemental sick leave to employees; and (6) provide organizing documents with its application. When the regulation becomes effective, applications can be submitted through the Office of the Small Business Advocate.

This likely extension provides some of the employer friendly provisions that many employers expected to see in the first version of the supplemental sick leave requirement. Employers should begin preparing to provide supplemental sick leave through the end of this year and reach out to counsel if they require assistance.