The city of Santa Rosa (CA) has approved an emergency ordinance that temporarily reinstates a requirement for employers to provide paid sick leave to employees for reasons related to COVID-19. This leave requirement is in effect from February 2, 2021 through March 31, 2021.
The emergency ordinance generally applies to all businesses within Santa Rosa city limits, regardless of size or sector.
To be covered by the emergency ordinance, an employee must work at least two hours within the geographic boundaries of the city. An employee who works only part of their hours within city limits is entitled to paid sick leave hours equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period in Santa Rosa.
Amount of Leave:
Full-time employees are entitled to use up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period.
Note: The leave requirement doesn't apply to cases in which the employer has already provided the employee with paid leave for COVID-19 at least equivalent to the paid sick time required by the emergency ordinance. For instance, if a full-time employee used 80 hours of COVID-19 paid sick leave in 2020, the employee wouldn't be entitled to any additional leave under the emergency ordinance. However, if a full-time employee used only 40 hours of such leave in 2020, the employee would be entitled to use 40 hours of such leave from February 2, 2021 through March 31, 2021.
Under the emergency ordinance, an employee can use paid sick leave if unable to work due to any of the following reasons:
- The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation by federal, state or local order due to COVID-19;
- The employee is advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
- The employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for an individual who is quarantined or isolated, or otherwise unable to receive care due to COVID-19; or
- The employee is caring for a minor child because their school or daycare is closed, or the childcare provider isn't available due to COVID-19.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees that would have qualified for the small-employer exemption under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) aren't required to provide leave for employees to care for a minor child whose school or daycare is closed, or the childcare provider isn't available due to COVID-19 (reason #5 above). These employers must still provide leave for reasons 1 through 4.
Under the emergency ordinance, if an employer can show that the need for leave is due to the employee's intentional violation of a health order, the employer may deny the benefit. Employers should consult legal counsel before doing so.
Pay During Leave:
If an employee qualifies for leave under reasons 1-3 above, the employee must be paid at least their regular rate of pay (up to $511 per day and not to exceed $5,110 in total).
If an employee qualifies for leave under reasons 4 or 5 above, they must be paid at least two-thirds of their regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day and not to exceed $2,000 in total).
Employers must give written notice to each employee about their rights under the emergency ordinance. For new hires, the notice must be given within one week of their start date. A sample notice provided by the city is available here.
Santa Rose employers should review the ordinance in full and ensure compliance. The city has provided additional guidance here. Keep in mind that employers may be entitled to federal tax credits for providing such leave. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.