California Employee’s Covid Rights

California Employee’s Covid Rights October 1, 2021

Protect Yourself – Know Your Rights 

COVID-19 is scary. 

The first case of COVID-19 in the US was reported in February of  2020. 

Since then, your life has never been the same.  

The stories are everywhere. People were getting sick, going to the hospital, quarantined at, home and worse. Some people are vaccinated and some are not. 

We all know someone who has been affected physically. 

And almost all of us have been affected financially. 

Most people have to work and are worried about how COVID-19 will impact their job. 

What if your workplace is not safe? 

What if you have to quarantine? 

What if a family member gets ill? 

As an employee in California, you have rights. 

Be prepared. Know your rights before you need to use them. 

The Basics – The Right to a Safe Workplace  

As California Employee’s Covid Rightsan employee, you have rights, and your employer has duties and obligations. 

The most basic of these is the right to a safe workplace. 

Federal, state, and local governments have laws, agencies, and departments to protect workers and enforce their rights. 

This includes the US Department of LaborCalifornia Labor & Workforce Development Agency, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Cal/OSHA, and more.  

COVID-19 Laws are Confusing 

As federal, state, and local governments hurried to pass COVID-19 laws to protect you, they created an assortment of confusing laws.  

Some overlapped. Some left gaps.  

Initially, some laws only covered employees of companies with more than 500 workers. That was changed to more than 25 employees in some newer laws.  

Some California cities and counties enacted additional laws and regulations. 

We are going to discuss the laws affecting you as an employee in California. But, even these laws are set to change. 

To be sure of your rights – do not hesitate to give us a call to get the most current information available about your COVID-19 paid sick leave rights. 

2021 Californian COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Act 

As a worker in California, you are probably covered under the  2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Act that Governor Gavin Newson signed into law on March 19, 2021, and made retroactive to January 1, 2021. 

This law is designed to protect California workers affected by COVID-19 issues. The law addresses – 

  • Paid Family Leave 
  • Worker’s Compensation 
  • Child Support Services 
  • Additional Unemployment Benefits  
  • Quarantine, and more. 

Below are some of the most asked questions about this law: 

Which Employers are Covered?  

All public and private employers with more than 26 employees are covered. 

Which Employees are Covered? 

Below are the general circumstances that allow a covered employee to take 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. 

You must be unable to work or telework due to any one of the following reasons: 

  • Caring for Yourself.  You are subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19, have been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis. 
  • Caring for a Family Member. You are caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19  or have been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or you are  caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 at their location 
  • Vaccine-Related. You are attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related side effects. 


Are Independent Contractors Covered? 


Other laws protect independent contractors, but they are not covered under this law. 

 However, if you have been  misclassified as an independent contractor but are in fact an employee, you may be entitled to this coverage.  


What Time Period is Covered? 

January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.  

Call us for updates to get the most current laws affecting you. 

When Does Your Employer Have to Make Paid Sick Leave Available? 

Immediately. Your employer must make paid sick leave available immediately upon the oral or written request. 

Can Your Employer Require Certification First? 


An employer cannot require certification from a health care provider before allowing you to take the leave. Your leave is not conditioned on medical certification. 

​​As a Full-Time Worker-How much Paid Sick Leave Can I Receive? 

If you are a full-time worker, you are entitled to 80 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. 

You are a full-time worker if you worked, or were scheduled to work, an average of at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks before the leave is taken. 

Does Your Employer Have To Display a Notice of this Law? 

Yes. Your employer must display the required poster in a conspicuous place. 

But, if the employees do not usually come into the office, the employer may send the notice electronically through email or other means. 

Can You File a Claim? 

If you were not allowed to use this leave or were not paid for it – call us and we will be glad to help. 

If you want to do this by yourself, you can file a claim or a report of a labor law violation with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, the state agency charged with enforcement.  

What About Retaliation or Getting Fired? 

One of the primary worker’s rights in the US and California is protection against retaliation. 

Several state, federal and local laws protect you from retaliation for using or attempting to exercise your rights to 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, like the California Labor Code section 246.5(c), as well as other laws. 

Your employer is also prohibited from retaliating against you if you raise workplace or health concerns over COVID-19. If you believe you suffered retaliation or wrongful termination, call us and let us help you assess your situation. OSHA laws also offer you protection, should you raise safety and health concerns with your employer related to COVID-19. 

Other Benefits – California Has A COVID-19 Information Portal 

The State of California has a Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) information portal as a. resource for employers and employees. 

In the first paragraph, they tell you, “What employees are entitled to may be confusing.” 

They are right – the laws are confusing. 

The portal was last updated on March 29, 2021.  

You can see the COVID-19 laws enacted earlier that have already expired, like the Federal Family First Coronavirus. Response Act (FFRCA) Emergency Sick Leave Act, and the FFCRA Emergency Paid Family & Medical Leave Act – expired in December 2020. 

There is also a short summary of the 2021 California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Act, covered above. 

A Summary of Current COVID-19 Benefits in California  

But you can also find benefit information for workers impacted by COVID-19 in the following areas- 

Disability Insurance  

  • If you are unable to work due to quarantine or a COVID-19 related illness, you might be eligible for  60-70% of wages (depending upon your income) for up to 52 weeks. The amounts range from $50 to $1,300 per week.  

Paid Family Leave 

  • If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you might be eligible for up to 8 weeks of benefits. As above, the rate is approximately60-70% of wages, and the amounts range from $50 to $1,300 per week. 

Unemployment Insurance 

  • If you lost your job or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you might be eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits 

Pandemic Unemployment Insurance 

  • If you lost your job or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you might be eligible for up to 39 weeks of benefits. This includes self-employed people, independent contractors, people with limited work history, and others not eligible for normal unemployment insurance benefits. 

California Paid Sick Leave  

  • If you or a family member are sick or need preventive care, including when civil authorities recommend quarantine, isolation, or stay-at-home, you may be entitled to sick leave pay. This is determined by a formula where you accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. But, your employer can cap the amount at 3 days or 48 hours per year. 

2021 Californian COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave 

  • As described above this is up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for employees working for an employer with more than 25 employees 

What Should You Do Next? 

Be informed. Know your rights. Get the benefits that you deserve. 

At Abramson Labor Group, we are an award-winning team of attorneys that focus on employment law. We have helped thousands of employees like you get the benefits and protection they deserve.  

Whether you just have a question or need help with an employer issue – give us a call today and let us show you how we can help you.