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March 24, 2021  |  Written by Alexis K. Stevens

California to Provide Supplemental COVID Leave – What Employers Need to Know

On Friday, March 19, 2021, the California Senate passed, and Governor Newsom signed, Senate Bill (SB) 95, which requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons (Supplemental COVID Leave).  The law goes into effect on March 29, 2021; however, the requirement to provide Supplemental COVID Leave applies retroactively to January 1, 2021.  Here is what you need to know:

Who does SB 95 apply to?

  • SB 95 applies to employers with 25 or more employees and includes the State and public agencies.

What can Supplemental COVID Leave be used for?

  • Supplemental COVID Leave can be taken for the following reasons:
  1. The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19-related reasons.
  3. The employee is attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from working.
  4. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  5. The employee is caring for a family member (child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling) who is subject to a quarantine or isolation period or who has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider.
  6. The employee is caring for a child whose school or daycare is closed or otherwise unavailable due to COVID-19.

How much leave are employees entitled to?

  • Full-time employees (40 hours/week) are entitled to 80 hours of Supplemental COVID Leave.
  • For employees that work less than full time, the amount of Supplemental COVID Leave they are entitled to will be based upon the number of hours that they work.

How much are employees paid while on Supplemental COVID Leave?

  • Non-exempt employees are to be paid at the highest wage rate of: (1) the employee’s regular rate of pay for the work week in which the leave is used; (2) by dividing the employee’s total wages (not including overtime) by the total hours worked in the full pay periods of the prior 90 days of employment; OR (3) the applicable state or local minimum wage.
  • Exempt employees are to be paid in the same manner as the employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave.
  • Employers may cap Supplemental COVID Leave at $511.00/day and no more than $5,110.00 collectively for each employee.

What else do I need to know about SB 95?

  • Employers cannot require employees to use any other paid or unpaid leave before or in lieu of the employee using Supplemental COVID Leave.
  • Employers are required to provide notice to employees of the availability of Supplemental COVID Leave by posting or email, as needed. The Labor Commissioner is to make a model notice publicly available by March 26, 2021.
  • If an employee took leave for a qualifying reason between January 1, 2021, and March 29, 2021, and was not compensated as required by SB 95, the employer must provide retroactive payment upon request of the employee.
  • Employers must note employees’ available Supplemental COVID Leave on the employees’ itemized wage statement beginning the first full pay period after March 29, 2021.
  • The requirement to provide Supplemental COVID Leave remains in effect through September 30, 2021.

For additional information please contact Alexis Stevens at

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