Last year, Executive Order N-51-20 provided COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave in California to certain food sector workers, and subsequent state legislation expanded the employees eligible to receive the leave to some non-food sector employees until December 31, 2020. In addition, federal law established the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) last year, which also required certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. While the state requirements for providing the supplemental leave did not apply to local educational agencies (LEAs), LEAs were captured by the FFCRA.
The federal stimulus bill enacted in December 2020 did not provide an extension of the FFCRA, thus Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) expired December 31, 2020 (see “Ask SSC . . . How Does the New Stimulus Package Impact the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA)?” in the December 2020 Fiscal Report). Absent federal or state law requiring LEAs to provide FFCRA leave, many have relied on local ordinances or accrued leave, unpaid leave, and other statutory leave entitlements to manage employee absences due to COVID-19-related reasons.
Assembly Bill (AB) 84 (Ting, D-San Francisco) would reinstate the leave as a provision of state law and expand it to all public and private entities, including LEAs. The qualification reasons for leave described in AB 84 are similar to the FFCRA leave, with the addition of leave provided for employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To qualify for the leave, a worker must be unable to work due to one of the following reasons:
- The worker is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
- The worker is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19
- The worker is prohibited from working by the worker’s hiring entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19
- The worker is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19
- The worker is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the worker from being able to work
- The worker is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
- The worker is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order, has been advised to self-quarantine or self-isolate, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
- The worker is caring for an individual whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
A worker who is considered full-time or who worked, or was scheduled to work, an average of at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks before the leave is taken is entitled to 80 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.
AB 84 will be heard in the Senate Budget Committee next week and, if approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, would be retroactively effective as of January 1, 2021, and expire on September 30, 2021. We recognize the difficulties experienced in managing COVID-19-related employee absences and the complications this may provide for LEAs that have implemented additional COVID-19 leave through the collective bargaining process, or through the development of other procedures. We encourage working closely with legal counsel to ensure legally compliant application of leaves if this bill becomes law.