School employers must provide COVID sick leave under new law
February 21, 2022
California education employers are subject to new COVID sick leave law, according to a recent bulletin from the law firm AALRR.
On Feb. 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 114, requiring employers with 26 or more employees, including K-12 and community college districts, to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) to employees. SB 114 takes effect 10 days after its enactment, i.e., Feb. 20, 2022. The law is effective retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and will expire on Sept. 30, 2022.
Though the provisions of SB 114 are similar to the 2021 COVID-19 supplemental sick leave (SB 95) that expired on Sept. 30, 2021, there are important differences in the new legislation. Public school employers will need to update their policies on pandemic and/or state paid sick leave, review SB 114 requirements alongside existing leave rights that may have been negotiated into MOUs, and develop protocols to begin administering this new bank of leave.
Qualifying reasons to use leave
Employers must provide SPSL to a covered employee, i.e., an employee who is unable to work or telework, due to any of the following reasons:
  1. The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19, as defined by an order or guidance of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local public health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace. If the employee is subject to more than one quarantine or isolation period, the employee shall be permitted to use supplemental paid sick leave for the minimum quarantine or isolation period under the order or guidance that provides for the longest such minimum period.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  3. The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a specified family member to receive a vaccine or a vaccine booster for protection against COVID-19
  4. The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a specified family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
  5. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  6. The employee is caring for a specified family member who is subject to an order or guidance described in subparagraph (1) above or who has been advised to isolate or quarantine, as described in subparagraph (2) above.
  7. The employee is caring for their child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.
For purposes of SB 114, “family member” and “child” have the same definitions as apply for existing “kin care” leave pursuant to Labor Code 233, and includes: child (including biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, regardless of age or dependency status); parent (including biological, adoptive or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child); spouse; registered domestic partner; grandparent; grandchild; and sibling.
Amount of leave
Full-time employees are entitled to 40 hours of SPSL. Part-time workers are entitled to a prorated amount of SPSL. Specifically, part-time employees with a normal weekly schedule are entitled to the total number of hours they are normally scheduled to work over two weeks. If a part-time employee works a variable number of hours, the employee is entitled to seven times the average number of hours the covered employee worked each day for the employer in the six months preceding the date the covered employee took SPSL; if the employee has worked for the employer fewer than six months but more than seven days, the calculation is made over the entire period the covered employee has worked for the employer. If the part-time employee works variable hours and has worked for the employer seven days or fewer, the employee is entitled to the total number of hours the employee has worked for the employer.
Additionally, SB 114 provides that when leave is taken for symptoms due to vaccination, an employer may limit the total supplemental sick leave to three days or 24 hours, unless the employee provides verification from a health care provider that the covered employee or their family member is continuing to experience symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster. Moreover, the three-day or 24-hour limitation includes the supplemental sick leave time used to obtain the vaccine or vaccine booster.
Additional leave available
A full-time covered employee is entitled to an additional SPSL, up to 40 hours (prorated for part-time), if the employee, or a family member for whom the employee is providing care, tests positive for COVID-19.

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