Amid all the discussion about the vaccine mandates, a new COVID-19-related law took effect in California that benefits home care employees. In response to California’s 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) law’s expiration on Sept. 30, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law SB 114 on Feb. 9, 2022. This law provides a new bank of SPSL for use by employees in 2022 and applies to employers with more than 25 employees.

Since the 2021 SPSL law’s expiration, workers in California were unable to secure paid sick leave for qualifying COVID-19-related reasons, with certain exceptions. The new 2022 SPSL law seeks to replace this expired state benefit, with notable distinctions, including two 40-hour banks of paid leave in connection with COVID-19. While the new law takes effect immediately and is retroactive through Jan. 1, 2022, employer obligations to provide COVID-19 supplemental California paid sick leave went into effect 10 days after signature, on Feb. 19, 2022. It will be in effect through Sept. 30, 2022.

This law is pivotal as it relates to home care employers. Bear in mind: While this law only applies in California, it may serve as a template for the rest of the country, particularly if COVID-19 continues to surge again.

Here are some more details about the new law:

How much leave: Provides up to 80 hours for full-time employees. However, this time, the leave entitlement is broken up into two “buckets” of up to 40 hours of leave for different purposes and with different requirements:

One bucket of leave — Up to 40 hours for COVID-19 qualifying reasons:  Up to 40 hours of leave must be provided if the employee is unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  • The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a vaccine or a vaccine booster for protection against COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidance described above or who has been advised to isolate or quarantine, as described above.
  • The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Note: For leave related to vaccines and boosters, an employer may limit the total leave to three days or 24 hours (including time used to obtain the vaccine or booster and symptoms).

Second bucket of leave — Up to 40 hours for positive COVID-19 tests:
Up to 40 hours of leave must be provided if the employee tests positive for COVID-19, or a family member for whom the employee is providing care tests positive for COVID-19.

  • If the employee tested positive, an employer may require employee to submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day after the initial test was taken and provide documentation of those results. The employer should make such a test available at no cost to the employee.
  • If the employee requests to use additional leave because a family member for whom they are providing care tests positive for COVID-19, the employer may require that the employee provide documentation of that family member’s test results before paying the additional leave.

The amount of leave required to be paid is again capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Take heed of this law. It’s a significant one, even if you don’t live in California.

Attorneys Angelo Spinola, Lindsay Ryan and Will Vail are attorneys at Polsinelli, a law firm with 900 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide representing thousands of home-based care providers. Learn more about the firm’s home health, home care and hospice division and online solutions for home care.