COVID Leave – Senate Bill 95

Covid Leave - Senate Bill 95

On May 25th Lee Norris, Labor Relations Manager, sent a communication to stewards about the recent passage of SB 95, which was signed into law by the Governor. SB 95 is effective March 29th and expires on September 30th. The law applies to State employees, which includes employees of the California State University.

Here are the key takeaways from the law:

Qualifying Reasons to Use Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL):

A full-time employee who cannot work or telework due to certain reasons related to COVID-19 can take up to 80 hours of supplemental paid leave for the following reasons:

  • to quarantine or isolate as required by federal, state or local law (including county health orders), or as advised by a health care provider;
  • for workers experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 and who are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • to attend a COVID-19 vaccination appointment;
  • for workers experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • to care for a family member who has to quarantine or be in isolation;
  • to care for a child whose school is not open for in-person instruction or whose childcare is unavailable due to COVID-19.

Leave Use and Reporting:

Employers cannot require any employee to use other leaves before or instead of SPSL. Employees are entitled to take leave immediately upon their request and do not need to provide medical certification or otherwise verify their need for leave. This was true of the 2020 statute as well and the Labor Commissioner took the position that an employer may only seek verification or documentation if the employer has evidence that an employee is abusing the leave. Employers cannot require workers to use other paid or unpaid leave before SPSL.

Retroactivity of SPSL:

SPSL is retroactive to January 1, 2021. Therefore:

  1. Employees on Unpaid Leave: Employees who were on unpaid leave for a qualifying reason should immediately make either a verbal or written request for retroactive application of the leave.
  1. Employees on Paid Leave: Employees who were used their accrued leave for a qualifying reason should make a written or verbal request to have the leave returned to their leave banks. While this provision is not explicitly included in the legislation it seems only reasonable that the leave be returned to an employee who used leave for a qualifying reason.
  1. To Whom the Request Should be Directed: Employees should direct their request for reimbursement to the campus HR Department.