California Assembly Bill 1867 (signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on September 9, 2020) and Senate Bill 1383 (signed on September 17, 2020) significantly expand the rights of California employees to both paid and unpaid leave. In addition, and especially as they relate to Senate Bill 1383, these laws will require California employers to promptly revise their policies and procedures when it comes to reviewing employee requests for unpaid leave.
Assembly Bill 1867
To recap, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) provides that employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. FFCRA, however, applies only to employers with fewer than 500 employees. Like many ordinances adopted after the passage of FFCRA, AB 1867 attempts to fill the gap left by FFCRA by applying to employers with 500 or more employees.
AB 1867 fills this gap in two ways. First, it creates new California Labor Code section 248, which mirrors Governor Gavin Newsom’s prior Executive Order N-51-20. Section 248 requires entities with 500 or more employees to provide their “food sector workers” with up to 80 hours of “COVID-19 food sector supplemental paid sick leave.” Second, it also creates new Labor Code section 248.1. This section applies more broadly than section 248 as it requires that employers with 500 or more employees provide all employees with up to 80 hours of “COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.”