COVID-19 and State Updates

August 20, 2021

There’s a lot to get to this time around – things don’t seem to be slowing down one bit. To begin with, we wanted to update you on some of the COVID-19 paid sick leave ordinances that have been passed over the last year and a half. The following ordinances have expired:

Philadelphia (expired 6/10/21, use until 6/17/21 permitted)

Pittsburgh (expired 6/17/21)***

Sacramento (expired 7/1/21)

Sacramento County (expired 4/1/21)

San Francisco (expired 4/12/21)

San Jose (expired 7/1/21)

San Mateo County (expired 7/1/21)

***New ordinance effective 7/29/21, see details below

U.S. Federal Updates

Department of Labor (DOL)

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

ODEP has published a new webpage dedicated to employment-related COVID-19 and Long COVID resources. The site has information for both employers and employees.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

On August 13, 2021, OSHA published updated COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare employers. Guidance focuses on the role of employers and employees as it relates to the pandemic. You can read more here.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The IRS has updated its FAQs for the Paid Sick and Paid Family Leave credits under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Of note:

  • Qualified sick leave wages have been updated to include those paid to an employee who is accompanying an individual who is obtaining immunization related to COVID-19; or
  • When an employee is caring for an individual who is recovering from any injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the immunization.

“Individual” means an immediate family member, someone who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates the expectation that the employee would care for the person. “Individual” does not include persons with whom the employee has no personal relationship.

U.S. State Updates

California

We are all very familiar with the required notices and posters that must be displayed at the worksite. Enacted July 16, 2021 and effective January 1, 2022Senate Bill 657 may have flown under your radar. This very short bill amends the California Labor Code to allow employers also to provide information to employees by email with the document(s) attached. Employers would still be required to display the posters at the worksite.

District of Columbia

The District has once again extended its COVID-19 Support Emergency Act (CSEA). It’s now in effect through November 5, 2021. The D.C. Office of Human Rights has updated its guidance document as well as its workplace poster.

Pennsylvania

City of Pittsburgh

The Steel City’s first Emergency Paid Sick Leave ordinance has expired, but fear not, as a new ordinance was signed into law by Mayor Peduto on July 29, 2021. The ordinance applies to employers with more than 50 employees and applies to employees who:

  • Normally work for their employer within the City of Pittsburgh,
  • Normally work for their employer within the City of Pittsburgh, but are currently teleworking from any other location as a result of COVID-19, or
  • Work for their employer from multiple locations or from mobile locations, provided that 51% or more of their time is spent within the City of Pittsburgh.

COVID-19 Sick Time under this ordinance is in addition to any other paid sick leave provided prior to the effective date of this ordinance. COVID-19 Sick Time must be provided once an employee has been employed by the employer for the previous 90 days. Employees who work 40 or more hours per week may receive up to 80 hours of COVID-19 Sick Time and those who work fewer than 40 hours per week receive up to the amount of time the employee is scheduled to work or works on average in a 14-day period. If an employer has an established policy that provides paid sick time for COVID-19 that is equal to or greater than that required under this ordinance, employers may substitute leave under their policy.

Reasons for leave if an employee is unable to work or telework:

  • Determination by a public official or public health authority having jurisdiction, a health care provider, or an employee’s employer that the employee’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 or because the individual is exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants;
  • Care of a family member of the employee due to a determination by a public official or health authority having jurisdiction, a health care provider, or the family member’s employer that the presence of the family member on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to COVID-19 or a determination by the employer that the employee is a danger to the health of others because they are exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants;
  • An employee’s need to: (i) self-isolate and care for oneself because the employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants; (ii) self-isolate and care for oneself under the guidelines promulgated by the Allegheny County Health Department because the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any of its variants; (iii) seek or obtain medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19 or any of its variants; Care of a family member who: (i) is self-isolating due to being diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants; (ii) is self-isolating under the guidelines promulgated by the Allegheny County Health Department due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any of its variants; (iii) needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19 or any of its variants; or
  • An employee’s need to obtain a vaccine or vaccine booster for themselves or a family member.

The ordinance will remain in effect for one year (until July 29, 2022).

Rhode Island

Changes are coming for the Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program in The Ocean State. Currently, employees can receive up to four weeks of paid leave for bonding with a new child (of the employee or domestic partner) or caring for a family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, spouse, or domestic partner) with a serious health condition. H6090A, passed in July, amends the TCI program as follows:

  • Beginning January 1, 2022, eligible employees will be able to take up to five weeks of TCI benefits in a benefit year.
  • Beginning January 1, 2023, eligible employees will be able to take up to six weeks of TCI benefits in a benefit year.

Canada Provincial Update

British Columbia

The B.C. government is in the process of gathering feedback from stakeholders with the aim of rolling out a new paid sick leave law in January 2022. The initial consultation period will span through September 14, 2021. During this period, the province will gather survey data from employers and workers, to understand what sick leave policies are currently offered by companies and how they are meeting workers’ needs.

Following the initial consultation phase, and through the remainder of the year, the province will then use the data gathered from stakeholders, along with paid sick leave research and best practice, to create the proposed B.C paid sick leave law. Input will then, once again, be gathered from employers and workers before the law is implemented in 2022.

If you would like to learn more, and how to contribute to the consultation process, you may do so here. 

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