Sonoma County (the County) initially enacted Ordinance No. 6320 on August 18, 2020 to provide COVID-19 related paid sick leave to employees not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) in the unincorporated areas of the County. Ordinance No. 6320 expired on December 31, 2020, however, because its expiration date was tied to the FFCRA. On January 26, 2021, the County extended Ordinance No. 6320 until June 30, 2021.
On February 9, 2021, the County enacted Ordinance No. 6336, which required all employers in the unincorporated areas of the County to allow their employees to use up to 80 hours of any unused paid leave benefits previously furnished to employees in 2020 for various COVID-19 sick purposes and/or for the care of the employee’s immediate family member whose senior care provider or whose school or childcare provider was closed or was unavailable due to COVID-19 reasons.
New urgency ordinance
On June 8, 2021, the County Board of Supervisors passed an urgency ordinance to amend and extend Ordinance No. 6336 (the Ordinance), its COVID-19 paid sick leave (CPSL) ordinance, noting the need to extend the expiration date and update its COVID-19 related paid sick leave ordinances to align with California’s 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law. The Ordinance will now expire on September 30, 2021, unless extended by the County.
Employees are eligible for CPSL under the Ordinance if they have worked a minimum of two hours for an employer. CPSL is only available if an employee is unable to work or telework. Employees may not use CPSL if they are able to work from home.
All employers in the unincorporated areas of the County must allow eligible employees to take CPSL upon written request for the following reasons:
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
- The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation by federal, state or local order due to COVID-19;
- The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee needs to care for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to provide care for an Individual whose senior care provider or whose school or childcare provider is closed or is unavailable in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation;
- The employee has an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; or
- The employee is ill after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and cannot work or telework.
Amount of leave
Full time employees who are normally scheduled to work 40 or more hours per week are entitled to up to 80 hours of CPSL from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. Part-time employees who are normally scheduled to work fewer than 40 hours per week are entitled to CPSL in an amount no greater than the employee’s average number of work hours in a two-week period, calculated over the prior six months.
Like the California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law, the County’s Ordinance grants eligible employees a new bank of leave, meaning that, if an employee previously took COVID-19 related leave in 2020, they are entitled to up to 80 additional hours of CPSL under the County’s Ordinance. However, employers may offset the amount of CPSL provided to eligible employees if employees have already taken COVID-19 related paid sick leave hours under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law, and/or Cal/OSHA regulations in 2021.
Furthermore, if an employee has at least 80 hours of accrued paid sick leave benefits as of June 8, 2021, or at least 160 hours of paid sick leave, vacation, and paid time off benefits, then employers are not required to grant additional CPSL under the Ordinance. If an employee has fewer than such hours of accrued paid leave benefits, then employers are only required to provide CPSL sufficient to make up the deficit.