Saba Zafar, Esq. 
Jaimee K. Wellerstein, Esq. 

While many California employers were anticipating the current COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) would expire on September 30, 2022, unsurprisingly, California has passed AB 152, which will extend SPSL through December 31, 2022. AB 152 has passed through the Legislature and awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature. This time, however, employers (especially smaller employers) will have some reprieve. Here is what you need to know:

Qualified Small Business Grant:

As a welcome addition for smaller businesses, AB 152 would establish the California Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 SPSL Relief Grant Program to assist qualified small businesses and nonprofits incurring costs for SPSL, until its repeal on January 1, 2024.

In order to qualify for a grant of up to $50,000 for costs incurred in connection with SPSL, qualified businesses would have to meet the following criteria:

a. Either a C or S corporation, cooperative, limited liability company, a partnership, or a registered 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19);

b. Currently active and operating;

c. Started operating before June 1, 2021, that has 26-49 employees;

d. Provided SPSL pursuant to the requirement of Labor Code Sections 248.6 and 248.7; and

e. Provides organizing documents (Articles of Incorporation, Fictitious Business Name, etc.).

Smaller businesses will definitely benefit from this grant, but they should make sure that they are not subject to any of the criteria that exclude them from obtaining the grant.

Same Bucket, Extended Time

AB 152 would not increase the amount of SPSL employees may take, but it would give employees an additional three months to use any leave for which they may be eligible. The Governor has until September 30, 2022, to sign or veto the bill. If the bill is not enacted, SPSL will expire as currently scheduled.

Additional Testing Requirements

Current law permits an employer to ask an employee to submit to a diagnostic test on the fifth day after an employee tests positive. AB 152 would provide that employers may also require employees to submit to another diagnostic test within no less than 24 hours if the second test is positive. Employers are not required to provide additional SPSL to an employee who tests positive and refuses to either submit both required diagnostic tests or provide documentation of the results. Employers requiring testing must continue to cover the costs of the tests.

Employer Takeaway:

While the Governor has not yet signed AB 152, if and when he does, it will go into effect immediately, so employers should plan accordingly. Employers are advised to update any necessary policies, as SPSL will likely extend through the end of 2022. If you have any questions about how this update may affect your business or need assistance updating your policies, please contact your attorneys at Bradley, Gmelich & Wellerstein LLP. We are here to help.

Saba Zafar

Saba Zafar, Esq. is Special Counsel in Bradley, Gmelich & Wellerstein LLP’s Employment Law Department. Saba has over a decade of experience as an attorney, primarily in employment law. Saba focuses her practice on providing strategic advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace matters, including drafting and implementation of HR policies and procedures, Employment Handbooks, and providing advice to clients on personnel issues as well as general business matters.

Prior to joining the firm, Saba was a Senior Counsel providing advice and counsel to mid-sized to large businesses on employment law compliance and day-to-day employment issues, including implementing policies and procedures, employee classifications, employment separations, managing and disciplining employees, and COVID-19 rules and regulations. Saba also handled a wide variety of employment matters in state and federal court, including cases involving wrongful termination, discrimination, and wage-related cases.

In her spare time, Saba has volunteered as a Mediator for the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Orange County Human Resources Department. She was also a Volunteer Tutor for Schools on Wheels, tutoring elementary school students on skid row in Los Angeles. Prior to practicing law, Saba was a Judicial Extern for the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District.

In her free time, Saba enjoys embarking on culinary adventures and catching up on new television shows.

Jaimee Wellerstein

Jaimee K. Wellerstein, Esq. is a Partner at Bradley, Gmelich & Wellerstein LLP, and the Head of the firm’s Employment Department. Jaimee concentrates her practice on representing employers in all aspects of employment law, including defense of wage and hour class actions, PAGA claims, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful discharge, misclassification, and other employment-related lawsuits. She also provides employment counseling and training in all of these areas.

Jaimee routinely represents employers in federal and state courts and in arbitration proceedings throughout the state, as well as at administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, the United States Department of Labor, and other federal and state agencies.

Jaimee assists as a Legal Advisor to CALSAGA and is a member of ASIS International. She is rated AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer rating available.