Written by Jeremy Mittman and Gabriel Hemphill
On September 29, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 152 into law. AB 152 was signed immediately before the expiration of its predecessor, Senate Bill (“SB”) 114 (which we discussed here), which provided Covid-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“SPSL”) through September 30, 2022.
Effective September 30, 2022, AB 152 extends the obligations and entitlements of California’s SPSL law to December 31, 2022. Of note, the extension of SPSL under AB 152 does not provide for additional or new leave for employees (or otherwise create new obligations for employers). Rather, employees who have not used their entire “bank” of SPSL hours in 2022 will have access to any remaining SPSL through December 31, 2022.
Much remains the same between the recently expired SB 114 and newly enacted AB 152. Specifically, the definitions of covered employers, employees, and family members; the qualifying reasons for which employees may use SPSL; the rules for how SPSL interacts with other leaves; the prescribed methods for calculating the amount of and rate of pay for leave; and the posting and wage statement requirements remain unchanged.
Although AB 152 does not create new obligations for employers, it expands permissible employer-required diagnostic testing of employees. In addition to being able to require testing on day five (5) after an initial positive Covid-19 test, AB 152 amends the law to allow employers to require a third COVID-19 test within 24 hours of a second positive test and allows employers to deny additional COVID-19 SPSL to employees who refuse to submit to tests.
Additionally, AB-152 establishes the California Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Grant Program within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. This program provides grants to assist qualified small businesses and nonprofits for costs incurred between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. Qualified applicants are awarded up to $50,000 in SPSL grant money.
Given that fall and winter months bring the possibility of another Covid-19 surge, employers should continue to provide SPSL to eligible employees and report the amount of SPSL used in 2022 on wage statements. Employers should cover the costs of any additional required testing in California and should also compensate non-exempt employees for any such time.