The new year has brought some changes with regard to COVID leave benefits due to the expiration of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the implementation of Cal-OSHA emergency standards on COVID. Below is a summary.
OSHA Emergency Leave
On November 30, 2020, the State of California approved emergency temporary Cal-OSHA standards on COVID-19 infection prevention. The regulation provides that employers continue to pay employees their normal wages (for their regularly scheduled hours) when they must quarantine due to workplace exposure to COVID-19. Some Agencies have referred to this as “exclusion pay”. This provision expires a the end of October. More info can be found here.
Although it has yet to extend the FFCRA, Congress did extend employer tax credits for paid sick leave and the expanded family and medical leave for voluntary use through March 31, 2021. More info can be found here. Several of IBEW 1245’s signatory employers have already voluntarily extended the leave benefits of FFCRA until March 31, and Local 1245 business reps are reaching out to the rest to verify that they plan to extend the leave benefits as well.
CA Supplemental COVID Sick Leave
California’s AB 1867, mandating “supplemental COVID sick leave” for employers of > 500 workers, set forth at Labor Code sections 248 and 248.1 expired on December 31, 2020 as well. When the Legislature returns, there may be action to extend the law, even retroactively.
Several California cities and counties have enacted Supplemental Sick Leave Ordinances as well. These also apply only to the employers of > 500 workers to “fill the gap” that the FFCRA left unaddressed. San Francisco, Los Angeles, LA County, San Jose, Oakland, Sonoma, Sacramento, are just some of the jurisdictions with these ordinances in place.
Some of these localities are considering, or have passed, extensions to their supplemental paid sick leave ordinances.. This doesn’t necessarily mean MORE paid sick leave. That is, if employees have used the 80 hours of paid sick leave in 2020, they do not receive new supplemental leave in 2021. An extension may mean, however, that employees have more time to take the supplemental paid sick leave that the ordinances originally granted.
It is imperative for employers to check local city and county websites to check (1) whether there is a local ordinance requiring COVID supplemental sick leave (2) whether the ordinance expires on December 31 or has been extended.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your Business Rep.
–Al Fortier, IBEW 1245 Assistant Business Manager