COVID Sick Pay in California 2022: How to Claim This New Paid Leave

Depending on where you work, you may be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid leave if you become infected with COVID in California.

With the signing of a bill by Governor Gavin Newsom on Feb. 8, Californians can now take advantage of paid sick time due to a COVID infection. Californians who missed 30 days of work because they or a member of their family had COVID have seen a 320 percent increase in that number, according to census data analyzed by the California Budget and Policy Center.

Learn more about who is eligible for COVID sick pay, what you can use it for, and what you can do if your company denies it.

Who can access this new COVID sick Pay leave?

If you work in California for a company with 26 or more employees, you’ll be able to claim paid COVID sick leave beginning on Saturday, February 19.

For any or all of the following reasons, you may be eligible for paid COVID sick leave:

  • Infected with COVID
  • A member of your family has COVID, and you’ve been tasked with their care.
  • You have an appointment to get vaccinated (includes boosters)
  • You must rest and recuperate after receiving a vaccination (includes boosters)
  • If a family member requires a vaccination or is recovering after vaccination, you must look after them.
  • Children who are unable to go to school due to virus-related closures or quarantines require your attention.
  • Your immigration or documentation status does not matter if you use COVID. If you plan to apply for a green card in the future, you will not be considered a public charge if you take advantage of your right to COVID sick leave.

… if this all sounds easy enough… Hold on a second. It’s going to be a little trickier than last year’s COVID sick leave system in California.)

Is Covid Sick PAy the same as “exclusion pay” in California?

This is not the same thing as unpaid leave. Cal/OSHA mandates exclusion pay for COVID-positive workers who pose an in-person infection risk to their coworkers, and it applies solely to those workers.

Businesses are required by state law to “exclude” employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and anyone who has been in close contact with positive cases at work until they are no longer an infection risk.

As a result of possible COVID-19 exposure at work, your employer must pay you for the days that you are unable to work. Earlier this year, officials voted to prolong the state’s exclusion pay provision for another five years.

Other distinctions between exclusion pay and regular compensation Exclusion pay, in contrast to the state’s COVID sick pay, only applies if you are at work when the possible exposure to COVID occurs. Cal/OSHA applies to practically every workplace in California, including offices, manufacturing, and retail businesses—but COVID sick pay only applies to organizations employing 26 or more workers. Find out more about exclusion pay by checking out the link provided below.

If you feel you contracted COVID-19 at work, you have the option of filing a workers’ compensation claim to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and potentially travel fees. Take a look at the workers’ compensation process.

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Can I use my COVID Sick Pay leave if I work from home?

If you test positive for COVID and work for a company with 26 or more employees, you are eligible for this COVID sick leave. This applies whether you work from home or in person.

No matter where you work, you can make use of the paid leave to rest and recuperate from your COVID infection.

Keep in mind that COVID sick pay covers a wide range of scenarios that aren’t directly related to obtaining COVID, like taking time off to get vaccinated for coronavirus or caring for a family member who has COVID. Regardless of whether you work in an office or from home, you are eligible for sick pay in these scenarios. Learn more about how and why you are eligible for COVID sick pay.

How does COVID’s new paid sick leave program function?

If you’re suffering from COVID, you’ll be able to take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave under California’s new bill in 2022.

For the first time since the year 2021, the new bill divides the 40-hour cap into two categories (or “banks”), with each bank having a different number of hours available. Which bank you use will be determined by the reason you’re claiming these hours.

Bank A: The most flexible alternative, with up to 40 hours of work per week available.

You can use these 40 hours for a variety of COVID-related purposes, which makes this bank more accommodating.

  • Infected with COVID
  • A member of your family has COVID, and you’ve been tasked with their care.
  • An appointment for a vaccine is required (includes boosters)
  • You must rest and recuperate after receiving a vaccination (includes boosters)
  • If a family member requires a vaccination or is recovering after vaccination, you must look after them.
  • Children who are unable to go to school due to virus-related closures or quarantines require your attention.
  • A good way to think of Bank A is to think of it as the one that is “very wide in terms of how applicable it is to many different
  • situations that would force workers to miss work because of COVID.”

You should keep in mind the following while applying for hours from Bank A to obtain a COVID vaccine or booster, or to recover from receiving a vaccine or booster, for yourself or a member of your family: Your employer might limit the number of hours you can claim for each immunization or booster to 24 working hours (or three days). If you or a member of your family are still experiencing symptoms after receiving a vaccine or booster, you will need a doctor’s note to support your request for additional time off.

Bank B: The less flexible option, which also provides up to 40 hours of work per week.

Only if you or a loved one has COVID may you take advantage of the other sort of paid COVID sick leave, known as Bank B.

You must show your employer that you or a member of your family has tested positive to be able to take time off from Bank B.

When it comes to paid COVID sick leave, Bank A and Bank B are two independent doors that can only be opened with a key (a positive COVID test result).

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