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May 20, 2020

San Francisco and San Jose Adopt COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

Posted by COVID-19 Rapid Response Team

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

San Francisco and San Jose have joined the list of cities in California that are adopting emergency paid sick leave ordinances to cover the gap left by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  Los Angeles has adopted a similar ordinance, and Oakland is also considering such measures.

Each city’s ordinance differs, but generally they apply to employers with 500 or more employees that are exempt from FFCRA requirements. Under FFCRA, employers with 500 or fewer employees were required to provide COVID-19 related leave, so the San Francisco and San Jose ordinances are extending coverage.

San Francisco Public Health Emergency Leave (PHELO)

The PHELO is effective April 17, 2020, and expires on June 17, 2020, or when the public health emergency is over, unless the Board of Supervisors extends the ordinance.

This paid leave is in addition to any paid time off (including paid sick leave under the San Francisco Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance) that the employer offered or provided to employees on or before April 17, 2020, except employers that voluntarily provided additional paid sick leave in response to COVID-19. Any voluntarily provided additional paid sick leave hours already used by employees prior to April 17, 2020, can be counted toward meeting the 80-hour requirement.

Covered employers are those with 500 or more employees worldwide. Employers covered by FFCRA are exempt from the ordinance.

Covered employees are persons providing labor or services for wages who are defined as an employee under California’s AB 5 standard, including part-time and temporary employees, who work in the geographic boundaries of the City and County of San Francisco.

Full-time employees as of February 25, 2020, are entitled to up to 80 hours of Public Health Emergency Leave. Part-time employees as of February 25, 2020, are entitled to the number of hours normally worked in a two-week period based on the average hours worked in the last six months.

Hours are to be paid to the employee at their regular rate of pay.

An employee can give you verbal or written request for the leave, and the qualifying reasons are:

  • The employee is subject to an individual or general government quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, including shelter-in-place orders. This includes an employee who is a member of a “vulnerable population,” which includes people who (1) are 60 years old or older; (2) have certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems; or, (3) who are pregnant or were pregnant in the last two weeks.
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a family member who meets one of the categories listed above.
  • The employee is caring for a family member if that person’s school or place of care has been closed, or the care provider of that person is unavailable, due to the public health emergency.
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the local health officer or federal law.

Note: An employer may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation for the use of Public Health Emergency Leave.

San Jose COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

The ordinance is effective April 7, 2020, and expires on December 31, 2020.

Covered employers are those subject to the Business License Tax required by Chapter 4.76 of the Municipal Code, or those that maintain a facility within the boundaries of the city and are a private employer with 500 or more employees nationwide.

Employers covered by FFCRA are exempt from the ordinance. Other exempt employers are those that already provide employees with at least 80 hours of paid personal leave. If the employer provides less than 80 hours of paid personal leave, then they are required to provide temporary supplemental paid sick leave up to the 80-hour requirement.

Covered employees are employees who perform “essential work” as defined by the Santa Clara County Public Health Order issued on March 16, 2020, and worked at least two hours within the geographic boundaries of San Jose. Employees who work from home are exempted.

If employees take sick leave for their own COVID-19 related medical condition, the pay rate is at the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate total. If employees take sick leave to care for another person, the pay rate must be two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate total.

The qualifying reasons are:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for an individual who either is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

Note: An employer may not require an employee to find a replacement as a condition of taking sick leave.

Have questions or need some help about the emergency paid sick leave? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts. For more information on keeping your business running during disruption, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

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