Coronavirus (COVID-19) and State Updates

February 5, 2021

Forget the Super Bowl, happy anniversary to the Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law on February 5, 1993 by President Clinton!

Federal Updates

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

For employers that were subject to the now-expired Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and who are voluntarily extending FFCRA leave to their employees, the IRS has posted updated FAQs that cover how the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (enacted December 27, 2020) extends the availability of tax credits. As a reminder, as of January 1, 2021 and through March 31, 2021, FFCRA only provides tax credits and is not counted towards an employee’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitlement.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA recently updated its guidance for employers as it relates to protecting workers and mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. While many of us continue to work from home, the guidance will help with creating a plan for a return to our usual workplaces. Hopefully, sooner than later.

State Updates

California

City of Santa Rosa

The City Council of Santa Rosa voted earlier this week to extend and amend its emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) ordinance. The updated ordinance is effective February 2, 2021 (not retroactive to January 1, 2021) and extends EPSL through March 31, 2021. Employers are not required to provide a new bank of EPSL hours to employees if an employee exhausted their allotment of any paid sick leave under the original ordinance or other law (FFCRA, California Supplemental Paid SIck Leave) in 2020. Amendments to the original ordinance include:

  • Employers that were subject to FFCRA in 2020 are now subject to EPSL given the expiration of FFCRA with one exception – employers with 49 or fewer employees do not have to provide childcare leave if providing the benefit would jeopardize the viability of the business.
  • Clarification that employees may use EPSL when they are unable to work (wasn’t clearly stated in the original ordinance).
  • EPSL is now capped at two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate when an employee is caring for an individual who is subject to quarantine/isolation or is unable to receive care due to COVID-19. Additionally, the same cap applies to employees caring for a minor child whose school or daycare is closed or the child care provider is not available due to COVID-19.
  • Employers are now required to give written notice to employees; for new employees, notice must be given within one week of the start of employment. The city has published a flyer to post in the workplace. Our assumption is that the notice may be provided electronically as well.

County of Los Angeles

The LA County Board of Supervisors has passed an urgency ordinance that extends the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) Ordinance that expired on December 31, 2020. The urgency ordinance is retroactive to January 1, 2021 and will remain in place until two calendar weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency. Other important changes:

  • Effective January 1, 2021, the ordinance applies to all employers in the unincorporated areas of the county. Employers that were not subject to the the original ordinance (i.e. employers with fewer than 500 employees) do not have to provide SPSL for any time prior to January 1, 2021.
  • An employee who exhausted SPSL in 2020 is not eligible for additional SPSL after December 31, 2020.
  • Employers are allowed to offset the amount of SPSL by the amount of leave they provided under the FFCRA.

Details regarding the initial ordinance passed last April can be found in our May 1, 2020 newsletter.

County of Sonoma

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has passed an urgency ordinance that extends the original emergency paid sick leave ordinance that was passed last August and has since expired on December 31, 2020. The urgency ordinance took effect on January 26, 2021 and is not retroactive to January 1, 2021 – it will be in effect through June 30, 2021. There may be more to come as the Board will have a few items on its agenda for its February 9, 2021 meeting:

  • Possibly expanding coverage to employers with 500 or more employees
  • Considering the need for a notice or posting requirement

We’ll keep you posted as to any further developments. For a refresher on the original ordinance please see refer to our August 29, 2021 newsletter.

District of Columbia

The COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act (CSEA) has been extended again and is due to expire once the declared public health emergency ends or no later than May 22, 2021. The D.C. Office of Human Rights has updated their guidance document as well as their workplace poster.

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

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