By CalChamber – September 2, 2022

AB 152 (Committee on Budget) COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave passed the Legislature on August 31 and awaits action by the Governor.

The bill establishes the COVID-19 Relief Grant Program within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to help qualified small businesses or nonprofits with grants up to $50,000 to reimburse COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave provided between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.

The bill provides funds for an additional $70 million in grants in addition to the $250 million passed in the budget earlier this year for a total of $320 million.

The bill also extends COVID 19 supplemental paid sick leave provisions from September 30, 2022 to December 31, 2022 to enable employees to take any unused COVID supplemental paid sick leave, keeping the total amount of leave available the same.

AB 152 states that an employer has no obligation to provide additional COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if the employee refuses to submit to a test. Employers will be allowed to ask for an additional test between days 5–10 after the first positive test.

As a budget bill, AB 152 will take effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor.

Common Question for CA meal period laws:  What if an employee does not take a meal period?

First, the employer must have a clear written policy (usually in the employee handbook) which states the company policy

When an employee chooses, without pressure from the employer – to either delay taking a meal period (such as beyond the end of the 5th hour of work or 10th hour of work depending on when it occurs, the employer does not have to “force” an employee to take a meal period.

As the CA Division of Labor Standard Enforcement on this issue states:

An employer is not required to ensure that no work is performed.  However, an employer must do more than simply make a meal period “available.”  In general, to satisfy its obligation to provide a meal period, an employer must actually permit them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break (in which they are free to come and go as they please), and must not impede or discourage employees from taking their meal period.