COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) was set to expire on September 30, 2022. However, on September 29, 2022 Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 152 (“AB 152”), which extends SPSL through the end of the year. The bill took effect immediately.
AB 152 does not change the obligations of employers to provide SPSL. As with the former bill, which created California Labor Code section 248.6, it provides employees with a total of up to 80 hours of SPSL. For a summary of the SPSL requirements, see our prior post COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Returning to California Workplaces. However, AB 152 does expand permissible employer-required COVID testing. Under Labor Code section 248.6, an employer could require that an employee submit a diagnostic test on day five after an initial positive test result. Under AB 152, employers can still require a test on day five. If this test is positive, then the employer can also require a second diagnostic test within no less than 24 hours. An employer is not required to provide additional SPSL if the employee does not provide a day five result or the additional test.
AB 152 also establishes the California Small Business and Non-Profit COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Relief Grant Program. This program is set to be repealed January 1, 2024, and it only awards grant money to qualifying applicants for SPSL provided between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. To qualify for this program small businesses or non-profits must meet the following criteria:
- Be a “C” corporation, “S” corporation, cooperative, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, or registered 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19);
- Began operating before June 1, 2021;
- Be currently active and operating;
- Have 26 to 49 employees, as proven by payroll data and an affidavit attesting to this fact;
- Have provided SPSL pursuant to the requirements of California Labor Code sections 248.6 and 248.7.
There are a number of exemptions that exclude small businesses and non-profits from this program, including organizations that do not have a physical presence in California, businesses primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities, and financial institutions or businesses primarily engaged in lending, among others.
Because AB 152 does not significantly change employer obligations, employers should continue to provide SPSL to eligible employees and cover the costs of any required COVID- 19 testing. However, the Grant Program does provide qualifying businesses and non-profits relief from costs incurred as a result of providing SPSL.