See our updated LawFlash: California Governor Signs SB 114 to Reinstate COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.
The California State Legislature Assembly Bill 84, introduced on February 2, proposes to require employers with 26 or more employees to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for qualifying COVID-19 related reasons. Although the proposed bill is similar to Senate Bill 95, which expired on September 30, 2021, there are some significant differences.
It should be noted that Assembly Bill (AB) 84 is a proposed law and may be subject to changes.
If passed and signed into law, AB 84 will take effect 10 days after the signature date. However, as drafted, it is retroactive to January 1, 2022, and it is set to expire on September 30, 2022.
Like Senate Bill (SB) 95, AB 84 applies to employers with 26 or more employees. AB 84 applies to all employees who are unable to work or telework due to a qualifying COVID-19 related reason. Additionally, it allows employees to use leave to care for family members, which it defines as including children, parents, spouses, registered domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
Similar to SB 95, AB 84 provides employees with a total of up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (CSPSL). However, SB 95 and AB 84 differ in the way they allocate CSPSL. SB 95 provided up to 80 hours of CSPSL in a single batch. AB 84, on the other hand, provides CSPSL in two batches—each batch permitting up to 40 hours of CSPSL. Under AB 84, the following applies for each batch:
AB 84 allows employees to use their first batch of up to 40 hours of CSPSL if they are unable to work or telework for the following reasons:
Employees may also use their first batch of CSPSL if:
Employees may be limited to 24 hours of CSPSL for the vaccine-related reasons listed directly above unless they provide medical certification requesting additional time. This limitation applies for each vaccine or booster shot.
An employee may qualify for a second batch of up to 40 hours of CSPSL if they test positive for COVID-19 or are caring for a family member who tested positive. Employers may require the employee to provide documentation of the positive test result. Additionally, if an employee requests this second batch of CSPSL for their own illness, their employer may require testing on day five after the initial positive test. Employers must make such tests available to employees at no cost. Additionally, if an employee is caring for a family member and requests this second batch of CSPSL, their employer may also require that the employee produce the family member’s positive test result.
Employees do not need to exhaust all CSPSL from Batch No. 1 before using CSPSL from Batch No. 2.
Unlike SB 95, AB 84’s prescribed method of rate of pay calculations aligns with the rate of pay calculations under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (HWHFA). As such, AB 84 requires that employers pay non-exempt employees by either:
For exempt employees, AB 84 requires that employers calculate CSPSL payments in the same manner they calculate wages for other forms of paid leave time.
Similar to SB 95, AB 84 caps CSPSL at $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate. Employees who have reached these caps are permitted to use other available paid leave (e.g., paid vacation, paid time off, or regular paid sick leave), provided that the terms of the policies allow for the use of leave under such circumstances, to ensure that they receive full compensation for the leave taken. However, employers cannot force the use of these other available paid leaves. CSPSL payments must be made no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the leave was taken.
As with SB 95, CSPSL under AB 84 is in addition to any “regular” paid sick leave required under California’s HWHFA. Additionally, an employer cannot require employees to use any other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off, or vacation time before using, or in lieu of using, CSPSL.
Employers who provide supplemental paid leave (beyond regular paid sick leave, vacation time, etc.) for time off taken on or after January 1, 2022 may count those hours towards the required amount of CSPSL if the supplemental paid leave policy meets the following requirements:
This may include supplemental paid sick leave provided pursuant to a local or federal law providing paid leave for the same reasons as AB 84.
Similar to SB 95, AB 84 has posting, recordkeeping, and wage statement requirements. Significantly, AB 84’s wage statement requirement expands upon what was required under SB 95 and mandates that employers provide employees with written notice, either through a wage statement or a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the employee’s payment of wages, that separately sets forth:
The final significant differentiator between SB 95 and AB 84 involves the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) exclusion pay. Cal/OSHA’s ETS requires that employers provide employees excluded from work due to a workplace COVID-19 exposure with exclusion pay under certain circumstances. Previously, employers were permitted to require that employees use their CSPSL before collecting exclusion pay. Under AB 84, however, employers are prohibited from requiring the exhaustion of CSPSL before the collection of exclusion pay.
As with SB 95, AB 84 incorporates existing HWHFA restrictions, including a prohibition on requiring that employees find a replacement worker to cover the days they use leave, a prohibition on retaliation, and a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer denies an employee the right to use leave, discharges, threatens to discharge, demotes, suspends, or in any manner discriminates against an employee within 30 days of the employee filing a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner, cooperating with an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation, or opposing an unlawful policy, practice, or act.
AB 84 generally includes the same penalties and enforcement provisions as SB 95, including a $4,000 aggregate administrative penalty cap and relief, such as reinstatement, back pay, payment of leave withheld, and payment of an additional sum.
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If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
Jacqueline C. Aguilera
Barbara J. Miller
Alicia J. Farquhar
 AB 84 contains provisions applicable to firefighters and in-home supportive services, which are not discussed in this LawFlash.
 AB 84 provides that these caps may be increased in the event there is federal legislation providing higher pay caps.