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Five Things Californians Should Know About Paid Sick Leave

AARP strongly supports California’s Paid Sick Leave program, because working Californians shouldn’t have to go to work sick, and because family caregivers who work shouldn’t have to choose between caring for a loved one and making a living.

Here are five things you should know about California’s Paid Sick Leave program:

1) What is Paid Sick Leave?

Under state law, working Californians can take up to 3 days paid time off for the flu or other illnesses and preventative care under California Paid Sick Days. In addition, effective January 1, 2021 and through September 30, 2021, Californians working for businesses with more than 25 employees may take COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for up to 80 hours for reasons related to COVID-19, including illness, quarantine, vaccination, and caregiving.  This is in addition to the 3 California Paid Sick Days.  This is not in addition to benefits already provided by your employer usable for the same COVID-19 related reasons as COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

2) How long has this program been around?

California enacted Paid Sick Leave in 2015.  In 2021, California passed COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Days, providing up to an additional 80 hours if you or a loved one is forced to quarantine or is ill due to COVID-19.  

3) Am I eligible?

You are eligible to take standard Paid Sick Days (up to 3 days) if:

  • You’ve worked for the same employer for at least 90 days;
  • You need time off for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition, preventive care, or need time off to deal with domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;
  • You need time off for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition, or preventive care for a parent, child, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling.

You are eligible to take COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave of up to 80 hours between January 1 and September 30, 2021 if:

  • You are subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19;
  • You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a test;
  • A health professional has advised you to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • You must take time off to receive or recover from a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • You are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises;
  • You are caring for a family member who is recovering from, or has been ordered to quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • The amount of hours you can take will depend on the average hours you work in a week.

4) For whom can I care while taking paid sick leave?

Standard (3 days) Paid Sick Leave is available for:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner;

Temporary, COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is available for:

  • Caring for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is available to those who work for an employer with more than 25 employees and is retroactive, meaning that workers can request pay for unpaid leave already taken earlier in 2021.

5) Where can I get more information about Paid Family Leave and caregiving?

If you have questions about the program, Legal Aid at Work can help you. You can reach them at 800-880-8047 Leave toll-free helpline is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST by calling 1-877-238-4373.

Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families was developed by AARP to help make caregiving more manageable. It includes information on how to have difficult but vital conversations with older family members, organize important documents, assess your loved one’s needs, and locate important resources.

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