Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Leave Updates

January 15, 2021

Federal Updates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

At the end of December, the CDC updated its COVID-19 guidance for businesses and employers page. The updates include:

  • Expansion of the section on in-person or virtual health checks
  • Added a section on considerations for COVID-19 testing
  • Shortened quarantine options
  • Clarification regarding masks

Department of Labor (DOL) – Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

The WHD recently released two FAQs (#103-104) regarding the expiration of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) effective December 31, 2020.

Question 103 confirms the expiration of the FFCRA and that an employee who was eligible for FFCRA leave in 2020 (but didn’t use the leave) would not be able to use the leave in 2021. However, employers previously subject to FFCRA, do have the option to voluntarily provide FFCRA-like leave and receive tax credits through March 31, 2021.

Question 104 pertains to a situation where an employer has not paid an employee for all or part of FFCRA leave taken in 2020.

The full list of FAQs may be found here.

State Updates

California

City of San Francisco

The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) has confirmed that the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) wage cap for 2021 is $2,262.

City of San Jose

The San Jose City Council last week passed a revised version of the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance enacted last April. The revised ordinance is retroactive to January 1, 2021 and will remain in effect through June 30, 2021. Notable differences include:

  • The ordinance now applies to all employers – previously, it only applied to employers not covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The ordinance applies only to employers that meet both of the following requirements:
    1. The employer is subject to the Business License Tax (Chapter 4.76 of the Municipal Code) or maintains a facility within the boundaries of the City.
    2. The employer is lawfully allowed to conduct business activities under the County of Santa Clara, state or federal health orders.
  • Employees can take leave under the ordinance when caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed due to concerns or precautions related to COVID-19.
  • The revised ordinance does not provide additional paid sick leave, it only extends the timeframe that an employee may use paid sick leave. Eligible employees are entitled to a maximum of eighty (80) hours of paid sick leave beginning April 7, 2020 through June 30, 2021 (part-time employees are entitled to the equivalent number of hours worked over a two-week period; or, if the employee has worked less than 6 months, the average hours the employer expected at the time of hire).
  • An employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave before the employee uses paid sick leave under the revised ordinance.

The ordinance requires employers to provide a notice to employees; however, an updated notice is not yet available. We will monitor and will send out once it’s made available.

The city has provided updated FAQs and if you would like a refresher on the original ordinance please see our April 14, 2020 newsletter.

Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

As you probably already know, several changes were made to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) that went into effect January 1, 2021. The DFEH is a state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws which include CFRA and Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). New documents have been released by the DFEH including a fact sheet with 20201 updates and updated posters. You can find the documents here.

Department of Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA)

Last week, Cal/OSHA updated their COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions. The FAQs includes a wide range of topics related to the pandemic. The FAQs can be found here.

Employment Development Department (EDD)

To our clients for whom we administer Voluntary Plans, you may have received the email from the EDD this morning regarding some upcoming deadlines. Our Compliance Services team has started to prepare the annual report (DE 2568V). We will reach out to our clients in early February for the 2020 Q4 DE3D as well as the required bank statements for December 2020 and January 2021. Upon receipt of the 2020 Q4 DE3D, we will finalize the report and will send to you for review prior to submitting to the EDD on your behalf. Further, we will also send the 2021 Voluntary Plan Documents to the EDD as required.

Massachusetts

The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has released some useful documents regarding the new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program.

PFML Leave Administrator One Pager

PFML Application Approval Timeline

If you have any questions, please reach out to compliance_services@thelarkincompany.com.

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