Driven by a national surge in COVID-19 cases, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and other state legislators, proposed an extension to the state’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) on January 25th, 2022. Specifically, Newsom was joined by California’s Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in the decision. In brief, the trio agreed on a framework to extend employee access to the supplemental leave through September 30th, 2022. Earlier, on December 15th, 2021, California joined New York in issuing mask protocols in response to the COVID-19 surge.

Background of California’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On March 19th, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law SB 95 requiring covered employers of 25 or more employees to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to qualified employees. Specifically, qualified employees were those unable to work because of one of the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation because of COVID-19.
  • A health care provider has ordered the employee to self-quarantine.
  • The worker has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a diagnosis.
  • An employee is caring for a family member who is quarantined with COVID-19.
  • A covered employee is caring for a child whose school or care facility is closed because of the pandemic.
  • The employee has an appointment to receive a coronavirus vaccine or is experiencing vaccine-related symptoms.

Subsequently, California’s 2021 SPSL expired on September 30th, 2021. Additionally, the nationwide Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which had granted paid sick leave to workers of employers with less than 500 employees, expired on December 31st, 2021.

2022 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Extension

Presently, the Governor, along with Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced a proposed extension to the state’s COVID-19 SPSL through September 30th, 2022. In essence, the proposed legislation would include the following details:

  • Employers with more than 25 employees would need to provide supplemental paid sick leave to covered employees.
  • COVID-19-related SPSL obligations would be retroactive to cover absences beginning January 1st, 2022.
  • Employers would need to provide workers with up to two weeks of SPSL to recover from COVID-19 or care for a family member with the virus.

In summary, the proposed legislation would grant up to 40 hours of SPSL for full-time workers who are sick or caring for a family member. Furthermore, it would grant up to 40 additional hours of paid leave with proof of a positive COVID-19 test.

Additional Proposals Under the Extension

In addition, the proposed budget actions include restoring business tax credits limited during the COVID-19 recession. Basically, these tax credits include research and development credits, net operating losses, as well as tax relief for federal relief grant recipients in restaurants and shuttered venues. Meanwhile, the proposal also floats additional funding for the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. Finally, the framework would include funding to increase testing capacity, speed up vaccination and booster efforts, and provide support for frontline workers and the health care system.