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Key Amendments To FFCRA & California’s New COVID-19 Sick Leave Requirements

March 2021 brought a variety of legislative changes impacting California employers.  On March 11, 2021 President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act).  Among other things, including the widely publicized $1,400 stimulus payments, the Act extends the $300.00 federal unemployment benefit and the availability of the payroll tax credits to employers through September 30, 2021.  Additionally, for those employers who opt to continue to provide Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)-type leave, the Act makes several significant changes to how the FFCRA is to be implemented with regard to both Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFML).

Then, on March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 (SB 95), providing a new form of COVID-19 related paid sick leave for many California workers.  The new law, among other things, extends protections to employees who are teleworking and expands the qualifying reasons for COVID-19 sick leave.

We provide below a summary of the key amendments to FFCRA and highlight the requirements under the newly promulgated California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

Key Amendments Under The American Rescue Plan Act Of 2021

By way of review, employer obligations to provide paid

New California Family Rights Act Dramatically Expands Employee Rights and Employer Obligations

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 1383, which repealed the current California Family Rights Act (CFRA), eliminated the California New Parent Leave Act, and replaced those statutes with a new CFRA, codified in California Government Code Section 12945.2, et seq.  Effective Janu­ary 1, 2021, CFRA will cover employers with as few as five employees and expand the reasons for which CFRA leave may be used, among several other changes.  Important aspects of the new law, as well as key considerations for employers to consider in developing compliance plans, are set forth below.

Expanded to Cover Smaller Employers

Currently, CFRA (modeled largely after the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)) applies to private employers with 50 or more employees and public employers of any size.  The new CFRA lowers the employee threshold and applies to private employers with five or more employees.

Therefore, CFRA will now apply to much smaller employers. Many smaller employers likely never had to comply with FMLA or CFRA, so there may be a steep learning curve between now and January 1, 2021.

Expanded to Cover More Employees:  75-Mile-Radius Eligibility Requirement Eliminated

To be eligible for leave under the current

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