New COVID Supplemental Paid Sick Leave and Indoor Mask Mandate Lifted
New COVID Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
The new supplemental paid sick leave policy passed by the California legislature yesterday has remnants of the old legislation, with some new changes. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor by the end of this week. Accordingly, more details and clarification to follow. It will be retroactive to January 1, 2022, and extend through the end of September, 2022.
The sick leave policy allows all workers at businesses of 26 or more employees to take paid time off to recover from COVID-19, care for a sick family member, attend a vaccination appointment, recover from immunization or take care of a child who cannot attend school because of virus-related closures or quarantines.
Business interests negotiated to allow companies to require employees to submit proof of a positive test to qualify for more time off after their first 40 hours are exhausted. In addition, the new policy limits workers to three days, or 24 work hours, to attend a vaccine appointment or recover from vaccine-related side effects, another request of business interests.
Federal tax credits that offset California’s last sick leave mandate expired last year, and for this new sick leave policy iteration, California will not provide a new tax credit or exemption for employers.
Of note with respect to taxes, the bill passed by the Legislature yesterday provides some relief for small businesses. In 2020, the state suspended net operating loss deductions for corporate and individual taxpayers with business income of $1 million or more in tax years 2020, 2021 and 2022. One of the bills passed Monday would end the suspension of the tax credit one year early. The legislation also removes a $5-million cap on most other business tax credits that were previously limited through the end of 2022. The bill allows businesses to receive a refund for any amounts in excess of the cap that could not be used in 2020 and 2021, or use the unused credits to offset taxes for the next five years.
Indoor Mask Mandate Lifted
The state of California’s indoor mask mandate, which was issued on December 15, 2021, and later extended through February 15, 2022, will expire on February 15th, officials announced Monday. Universal masking shall remain required in only specified settings. Only unvaccinated persons are required to mask in all indoor public settings. Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to continue indoor masking when the risk may be high.
Masks are still required for all individuals in the following indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. Surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with a good fit are highly recommended.
- On public transit (examples: airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares) and in transportation hubs (examples: airports, bus terminals, marinas, train stations, seaports or other ports, subway stations, or any other areas that provide transportation)
- Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare
- Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
- Healthcare settings
- State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
- Homeless shelters
- Long Term Care Settings & Adult and Senior Care Facilities
In settings where masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, businesses, venue operators or hosts may choose to:
- Provide information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.
- Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.
- Require all patrons to wear masks.
No person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a business.
Some questions loom in response to this new guidance. First, with the statewide mandate gone, control over masking policies returns to the counties. It will be prudent to keep tabs on what the counties require even in light of the state’s relinquishment of the mask mandate. Second, it appears under the guidance promulgated that “fully vaccinated” does not require being boosted. Stay tuned.
|ERICA M. SOROSKY
|ERIN K. OYAMA