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Sacramento City Council Imposes New Requirements on Employers Due to COVID-19

Posted by Timothy B. Del Castillo | Jul 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

sick woman in bed

On June 30, 2020, the Sacramento City Council passed the Worker Protection, Health, and Safety Act (“the Act”), which imposes certain requirements on employers in the City of Sacramento beginning July 15, 2020.  The Act's stated purpose is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the City's residents. 

Under the Act, all employers in the City of Sacramento must comply with various cleaning and safety protocols.  Employers with 500 or more employees nationally who are exempt from providing paid sick leave under the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, enacted as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, must also provide supplemental paid sick leave.  The Act remains in effect until December 31, 2020.

All employers in the City of Sacramento must implement specific cleaning and safety protocols and the law further provides that an employee may refuse to work, without pay, if he or she reasonably believes that the employer is not complying with these required cleaning and safety protocols and notifies the employer of the alleged violation.  

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave:

Employers with at least 500 employees nationally who are exempt from providing paid sick leave under the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act must provide all full and part time employees with supplemental paid sick leave.  Employees who are health care providers or emergency responders are exempt from this requirement.  The supplemental paid sick leave requirement is in addition to any other paid sick leave that an employer already provides.

All full time employees, defined as those who work at least 40 hours per week, are entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave at the employee's regular rate of pay, subject to daily and aggregate monetary maximums.  Part time employees, defined as any employee who is not full time, are entitled to supplemental paid sick leave equal to the number of hours worked on average over a two-week period.  To calculate this average, employers must use the number of hours a part time employee worked each week during the six months immediately preceding July 15, 2020 when the Act took effect, multiplied by two.  Interestingly, the law does not account for a scenario where a part time employee has not worked for the employer for at least six months prior to July 15, 2020.

If an employer has provided paid sick leave since March 19, 2020 beyond any other paid sick leave already provided prior to that date to be used specifically for COVID-19 related reasons, the additional paid sick leave may offset the supplemental paid sick leave required under the Act.

An employee may use supplemental paid sick leave for the following reasons:

  • An employee must quarantine due to a federal, state, or local order, or the employee must care for a family member who is subject to a quarantine order.
  • An employee is advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider, or the employee must care for a family member who is so advised.
  • An employee chooses not to work because he or she is over age 65, or the employee is vulnerable due to a compromised immune system.
  • The employee cannot work because the employer must cease operation due to a public health order or a public health official's recommendation.
  • An employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19 and seeks a medical diagnosis.
  • An employee must care for a minor child because school or day care is closed due to COVID-19.

An employer may not require that an employee use other accrued paid sick leave, paid time off, or vacation time prior to using supplemental paid sick leave under the Act.  An employer may require that an employee provide the reason for requesting supplemental paid sick leave but may not require that the employee provide any documentation.  Additionally, an employer may require that employees provide reasonable notice when the need for supplemental paid sick leave is foreseeable.  Supplemental paid sick leave expires when the Act terminates on December 31, 2020.  Employees are not entitled to be paid for any unused supplemental paid sick leave.

About the Author

Timothy B. Del Castillo

Tim practices employment law in California and represents both employees and employers in federal and state courts, administrative hearings, arbitrations, mediations, and in direct negotiations. Tim also offers advice and counsel and training to businesses to help them achieve compliance with California employment laws.

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