COVID-19 and State Updates

June 15, 2021

U.S. Federal Updates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC published updated COVID-19 FAQs on June 11, 2021.

U.S. State Updates

California

Los Angeles County

The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) has released the required poster for the Employee Paid Leave for Expanded COVID-19 Vaccine Access Ordinance. Every employer must display this poster in a conspicuous and accessible place (we have confirmed with the DCBA that the poster may be shared with employees electronically as well). As a reminder, this ordinance is retroactive to January 1, 2021 and in effect until August 31, 2021. Additionally, it only applies to unincorporated areas of the county. For further details, please see our May 27, 2021 newsletter.

Sonoma County

The Sonoma County COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) Ordinance was due to expire July 1, 2021 but thanks to a proactive Board of Supervisors, the ordinance is being extended through September 30, 2021. Last week, an Urgency Ordinance was passed that not only extends the ordinance but makes some other changes. Of note:

  • The ordinance is retroactive to January 1, 2021. A full-time employee may use up to 80 hours of EPSL and a part-time employee may use EPSL in an amount no greater than the employee’s average number of work hours in a two-week period, calculated over the prior 6 months.
  • Employers are only required to provide EPSL on a one-time basis and may credit the total COVID-19 paid, sick leave hours furnished to an employee under the California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law or under the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • In addition to previously noted reasons for leave, employees may now utilize EPSL to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine as well as if they fall ill after receiving the vaccine (and are unable to work or telework).
  • If an employee has at least 80 hours of accrued paid sick leave benefits as of June 8, 2021 or at least 160 hours of a combination of paid sick leave, vacation and PTO paid time off benefits, an employer’s obligation to provide EPSL will be deemed to be satisfied. If an employee, as of June 8, 2021, has fewer than 80 or 160 hours, respectively, the employer is required to provide EPSL to the extent of such deficiency.

The required poster has not been updated yet, but we will keep a lookout for it and will share once it’s available.

District of Columbia

The updated enforcement guidance and the workplace poster are now available for the latest update to the D.C. COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act (CSEA). The law is now currently set to expire once the declared public health emergency ends or approximately September 30, 2021.

Maryland

Starting October 1, 2021, employees in Maryland will be able to use their earned paid leave for bereavement purposes under House Bill 56Employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the Flexible Leave Act (FLA) which also allows employees to use their earned paid leave to care for an ill family member. “Leave with pay” means paid time away from work that is earned and available to an employee:

  1. Based on hours worked; or
  2. As an annual grant of a fixed number of hours or days of leave for performance of service.

It includes sick leave, vacation time, paid time off, and compensatory time. It does not include a benefit under an employee welfare benefit plan subject to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (e.g. STD benefits), an insurance benefit (including a self-insured plan), workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, a disability benefit or any similar benefit.

Employees would be able to utilize this leave upon the death of an immediate family member (child, spouse, or parent).

Massachusetts

The required notice for the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) law has been released. As a reminder, the notice must be posted in a conspicuous place at the worksite and/or via electronic communication/posting in a web-based platform. To revisit the details of this law, please see our June 4, 2021 newsletter.

Nevada

The Silver State joined the party when it comes to paid vaccination leave when Governor Sisolak signed SB 209 into law last week. Employers with 50 or more employees in Nevada must now provide up to 4 hours of paid leave to employees for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. For a single dose vaccine, employees get up to 2 hours while those receiving a vaccine requiring two doses get up to 4 hours of leave. Employees need to provide at least 12 hours of notice of their intent to utilize this leave.

The Labor Commissioner will prepare a required bulletin for employers to post in a conspicuous location in each workplace. We’ll share once it’s available.

You may recall that Nevada passed a paid leave law that went into effect January 1, 2020. This law impacts only employers with 50 or more employees in the state and requires employees accrue leave time up to 40 hours per year. Despite employers being required to allow employees to use the paid leave for any reason, legislators felt the need to include in SB 209 that the leave may be taken, without limitation, for the following reasons:

  1. Treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  2. Receiving a medical diagnosis or medical care;
  3. Receiving or participating in preventative care;
  4. Participating in caregiving; or
  5. Addressing other personal needs related to the health of the employee.

Further, AB 190, signed into law earlier this year and effective October 1, 2021, will require an employer that provides paid or unpaid sick leave to allow employees to use any accrued sick leave to assist a member of the immediate family of the employee who has an illness, injury, medical appointment or other authorized medical need. Employers may limit the amount of sick leave that an employee may use to the amount accrued during a 6-month period.

The Labor Commissioner will be busy as there is a required bulletin for this one too. We’ll pass it on once it’s available.

Oregon

The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) has been amended once again, mainly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. HB 2474 enacted as of June 8, 2021 and effective January 1, 2022 provides leave when a child care provider or school closes due to a public health emergency (e.g. COVID-19). This amendment applies to all employees except those who have worked for the employer for fewer than 30 days before the leave start date or those who work an average of fewer than 25 hours per week in the 30 days prior to the leave start date. An employee who separates from and then returns to employment with an employer within 180 days may also utilize this leave.

Employers may only request verification of an employee’s leave to care for a child whose child care provider or school has closed due to a public health emergency. Such request may include:

  1. The name of the child requiring home care;
  2. The name of the school or child care provider that is subject to closure;
  3. A statement from the employee that no other family member of the child is willing and able to care for the child; and
  4. A statement that special circumstances exist that require the employee to provide home care for the child during the day, if the child is older than 14 years of age.

Canada Provincial Updates

Manitoba

  • Manitoba’s Pandemic Sick Leave program (“Manitoba COVID Leave”)
    • Manitoba employees are entitled to 5 non-consecutive days of paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons.
    • The reasons for which Manitoba COVID Leave can be taken include testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or caring for a relative in any of these circumstances.
    • The leave is available effective May 7, 2021 to September 25, 2021.
    • Employees must provide as much notice of the leave as is reasonable and practical. Employers may require reasonable verification of the entitlement to leave, as soon as practicable, but cannot require a doctor’s note or medical certificate from the employee.
    • If an employer provides more than 5 days of paid sick leave to all of their employees, the company is not eligible for reimbursement of Manitoba COVID Leave. If an employer offers less than 5 days of paid sick leave, they can receive reimbursement for the difference between the sick leave balance they offer, and the 5 day maximum paid sick leave under the Manitoba program. Employees who have exhausted paid sick leave benefits are not covered by Manitoba COVID Leave. For more information, see here.
    • Employees should be paid regular wages, and employers may request reimbursement from the program up to $600 in total for up to 5 full days of Manitoba COVID Leave. Employers can request reimbursement through Manitoba Economic Development and Jobs via an online application form following the employee’s regular pay period.

Ontario

In our May 17, 2021 newsletter, we discussed the Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave law that requires employers to provide up to three days of pay to employees who miss work for certain COVID-19-related reasons. More information has been released through Ontario’s website including a link for employers to submit claims for reimbursement to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Employers may seek up to $200 per day per employee in reimbursement for payments made to employees under the law.

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