Tuesday, October 4, 2022

COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Extended

On September 29, 2022, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 152 into law. AB 152 extends the existing COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) from September 30, 2022, to December 31, 2022. The bill also provides an additional $70 million to establish the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Grant Program to reimburse small businesses and non-profits for their COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave disbursements to employees.

Employers with more than 25 employees must continue to allow employees to take any unused COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave until December 31, 2022 under the same 40 / 40 bucket framework as is currently in place for employees who are unable to work or telework due to an approved COVID related reason. The definition of a covered employee for purposes of receiving SPSL is not altered by the passing of AB 152. AB 152 does not provide any additional paid sick leave. Therefore, if an employee has already used all of their COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, AB 152 does nothing to provide them additional paid time off.

AB 152 amends the required SPSL for employees who refuse to submit to COVID testing, clarifying that there is no obligation to provide the second bank of SPSL to employees who refuse to test and provide the results to the employer. For employees that do test, if an initial test taken on or after the fifth day after the first positive test which entitled the employee to the additional SPSL is positive, the employer may require a second diagnostic test. If the second diagnostic test is positive, employers may require a third test within no less than 24 hours. Employers must provide both the second and third tests at no cost to the employee.

Qualifying small businesses and non-profits may be eligible for reimbursement of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave paid to Employees in the year 2022. The grants to qualified small business and non-profits are for actual costs incurred from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022, with a maximum grant amount per applicant of $50,000. To qualify for the grant, the business or non-profit must meet all of the following criteria:

• 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);
• Began operating before June 1, 2021;
• Be currently active and operating;
• Have 26 to 49 employees and provides payroll data and an affidavit attesting to that fact;
• Have provided COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to Employees; and
• Provide organizing documents.

The Office of Small Business Advocates (“CalOSBA”), a division of California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (“GO-Biz”), will review applications to determine whether all of the criteria are met and if the applicant is subject to any of the numerous exclusions and disqualifications included in AB 152.

What This Means for Employers
Employers must continue to provide COVID-19 SPSL to qualifying eligible employees at the employee’s request. The only significant change is the additional mandatory testing when an employee tests positive on or after 5 days from the initial positive test. The attorneys at Barsamian & Moody are available to assist employers needing guidance with the continued implementation of COVID-19 guidance and SPSL requirements.

The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should neither be interpreted as, nor construed as legal advice or opinion. The reader should consult with Barsamian & Moody at (559) 248-2360 for individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation.

Source: Barsamian and Moody