CA COVID Sick Pay Update

Mike Hayden

Although the COVID-19 paid sick pay was set to voluntary for employers on January 1, 2021, CA has now mandated continued COVID-19 paid sick leave for employers with 25 or more employees. There are other requirements such as paystub notification of available balance and expanded reasons for paying sick pay to employees. Read on for the details, but know that we've got you covered at Infinim HR.

As you may be aware, the FFCRA COVID-19 paid sick leave provisions were extended with Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 as a voluntary employer option to employees until March 31, 2021. This Federal Act did not extend an eligible employee’s entitlement to FFCRA leave beyond December 31, 2020.

Of course, we live in CA, so that voluntary provision was just replaced with a mandatory continuation of the COVID-19 paid sick leave as well as more expansive requirements added by the legislature and Governor Newsom. SB 95 was passed on March 18 and signed by Governor Newsom on March 19. The Bill mandates statewide supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave, retroactively to January 1, 2021, and continuing through September 30, 2021.

Sorry, this is a detailed blog but important information, so please read on…

Additional 80 Hours

SB 95 requires an additional 80 hours of paid leave to employees for qualifying reasons to employers with 25 or more employees. This new leave is in addition to any leave you may have already paid out in 2020, on an individual employee basis.

Federal Tax Credits

Although there is no specific language supporting that currently, Federal Law provides tax credits for COVID-19 sick pay.

Additional Reasons Covered

SB 95 expands the circumstances under which an employer is required to provide leave.

The new law requires covered employers to provide paid COVID-19 sick leave to employees unable to work or telework due to any of the following reasons:

  • Subject to an official quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19
  • Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
  • Attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
  • Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
  • Caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or guidelines, or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; and/or
  • Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Retroactive Effect

The requirement to provide leave begins 10 days after the law is enacted (March 29 target date) and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. Any retroactive payments need to be paid “on or before the payday for the next full pay period after the oral or written request of the covered employee.”

Prorated for Part-Time

The amount available to employees can be prorated to their actual scheduled or worked hours. If an employee is a scheduled PT employee, their available sick time hours would be based on the total number of hours the covered employee is normally scheduled to work for the employer over 2 weeks.

Part-time employees working a variable number of hours are entitled to 14 times the average number of hours they worked each day for the employer in the 6 months preceding the date the covered employee took supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave. This calculation will need to be done for each PT employee individually.

Notice and Paystub Requirements

Along with this new legislation, employers are required to distribute a notice of employee rights to supplemental paid sick leave. A template for this notice can be downloaded below.  Employers may provide electronic notice for employees who do not frequent a workplace.

The COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave must also be reflected on itemized wage statements. This means employees will be able to see that they have 80 hours of paid sick leave available for COVID-19 related reasons. As (if) the employees take COVID-19 paid sick leave, it would need to be logged with payroll, so the hours are deducted from their balance.

Be Prepared

The new law is effective March 29, 2021, and expires on September 30, 2021. Considering this is retroactive to January 1, 2021, CA employers should review records for any leaves that were not paid back to the retroactive date and begin to prepare for the inevitable leave and reimbursement requests in the future.

We have attached a notice to distribute to your employees and will be follow-up with additional instructions. The best practice for clients of Infinium is to contact us if you have any COVID-19 related absences and allow us to manage the back-end process for you.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our HR experts at


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