As California employers brace for a host of new laws that will affect operations in the workplace, the City of San Diego recently passed two new COVID-19 ordinances. The City Council passed a right of recall ordinance and a supplemental paid sick leave ordinance before Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1837, which covers similar supplemental paid sick leave requirements.

The supplemental paid sick leave, like other similar local ordinances, is intended to ensure that an employee working for companies that employ 500 or more employees will receive similar benefits as those offered under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  These benefits include 80 hours of paid sick leave to any employee who is infected by COVID-19 or who has an infected family member.

Covered Employers

The new supplemental paid sick leave ordinance covers all employers that are not considered a “covered employer” under the FFCRA, including those with over 500 employees.

The following employers are exempted from the supplemental paid sick leave:

  1. Employers of emergency responders or a healthcare provider.
  2. Employers that provide global delivery services.
  3. Employers that were closed or not operating for a period of 14 or more consecutive calendar days due to a City of San Diego official’s emergency order because of COVID-19.
  4. Employers that have a paid leave or paid time off policy that provides a minimum of 160 hours of paid leave annually.
  5. Government Agency employers whose employees are working within the scope of their public service employment.

Covered Employees

Under the ordinance, “covered employees” are any employee as defined under the Labor Code who performed work for an employer within the geographical boundaries of the City of San Diego on or after June 1, 2020. An employee is entitled to leave if they have been employed by the same employer for the 3 months immediately preceding June 1, 2020.

Amount of Leave

Employees normally scheduled to work at least 40 hours or classified as full-time by the employer on June 1, 2020, will be entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave. Employees working less than 40 hours or classified as part-time on June 1, 2020, will receive supplemental sick leave equal to the average number of hours worked over a two-week period. Like the FFCRA the amount of leave paid to an employee shall not exceed $511 per day and a $5,110 in aggregate.

A covered employer’s obligation to provide 80 hours of leave under the ordinance is reduced for every hour an employer allowed an employee to take paid leave in an amount equal or greater than the requirements of the ordinance, not including previously accrued hours, on or after June 1, 2020, for any reason covered by the ordinance.

Reasons for Leave

Employees may take leave for the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is at least 65 years old and has a health condition such as heart disease which puts the employee at heightened risk of serious illness or death if exposed to COVID-19;
  5. The employee needs to provide care for a family member or household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19;
  6. the employee needs to provide care for a family member or household member who is not sick but who public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended isolation or self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  7. the employee needs to provide care for a family member or household member whose senior care provider, or whose school or child care provider for a child under the age of 18, has been closed or is otherwise unavailable in response to a public health order or other public official’s recommendation related to COVID-19

An employer may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation for the use of the leave.

Notice Requirement

The City of San Diego will publish a notice suitable for every employer to inform employees of their rights. Every covered employer must within three days of the City publishing the notice must provide the notice to employees in a manner calculated to reach all employees, including posting or via electronic communication.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor emergency regulations pertaining to COVID-19. Jackson Lewis’ Coronavirus Task Force is actively monitoring the developing situation surrounding the complexities of COVID-19.