URGENT UPDATE: COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Has Expired
The COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) that Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law expired on September 30, 2021. It provided California workers (at places of business with more than 25 employees) with two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave when they were unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
As a result of Newsom's not extending this vital benefit, millions of the state's workers have lost two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave that could have been used to get vaccinated, isolate from potential exposure to COVID or deal with any lingering problems stemming from COVID-19.
"This impacts a wide variety of workers, including those in the food sector, retail food and supply chain employees, farmworkers, pick-up and delivery workers, and many others. However, the expiration of SPSL doesn't put an end to other COVID-19 obligations on the part of employers," says Amy Leung, a partner in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton and Goldstein, LLP (GEK).
Cal/OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which are still in effect, specify an employer's duties in regards to prevention procedures, investigation and notification requirements, testing provisions, and required benefits to certain employees excluded from work due to COVID-19 exposure.
Importantly, Senate Bill 1159, signed into law by the Governor last year, has made it easier for many workers to obtain Workers' Compensation benefits for COVID-19 exposure on the job. If there is an "outbreak" at the workplace under the particular requirements of SB 1159, then the COVID-19 exposure is rebuttably presumed to be work-related, which makes it the defendant's burden to prove it was not contracted at work. Firefighters, peace officers, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, in-home support service workers, and certain employees of health facilities also have special protection under SB 1159.
It is imperative for any worker who suffers a work injury to contact a Workers' Compensation attorney in order to understand the benefits that are available. In terms of COVID-19 exposure, the laws are ever changing and nuanced. At GEK we are dedicated to ensuring that workers who get sick or injured on the job receive the full range of benefits to which they are entitled.