Restored COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave 2022: New ‘COVID Pay’ California Extension a Mixed Bag for Employers

There have been a lot of numbers and statistics since the Covid Pandemic became our new reality. News headlines are flooded with rates of illness and losses.

At some point, two questions will be thoroughly examined: what was the cost of governments’ response to the pandemic and who paid those costs?

It may be some time before we know the full breadth of these answers. But one thing is clear after today: many of California’s workers will have additional protected time off as we head into the third year of the Covid pandemic. And while there may be some new state provisions benefiting employers, it appears they may bear at least some of the cost for providing additional sick time to their employees.

As an attorney focused on labor and employment law, the pandemic and its impact on businesses has been at the forefront of my work for the past couple of years. I’ve seen discussions related to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) take center stage since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The state’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards have helped set the stage for a completely new wave of legislation related to employee health and safety.

As the founder of Proper Defense law firm’s Civil Division, I am also an employer and grateful for the work of my employees, as well as vendors and contractors upon which our business depends. I understand firsthand the important need to balance the financial needs of a business with the well-being and health of employees. The balancing act of what is best for employers and employees is a recurring subject on my blog Legal Tastings, including the most recent post about protecting your business from potentially reduced hours.

With a deeper understanding of the new paid sick leave California COVID-related legislation, your business will be better positioned to ride the wave of changes successfully.


The state legislature with the support of Governor Newsomtook steps this week to pass legislation providing additional paid leave for workers in California. The sick leave was part of a broader package of legislation that intended to provide some support to employers.

The framework for the deal was negotiated and first announced at the end of January by the governor, along with Senate President Pro-Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. In a joint statement issued on January 25 they said:

“By extending sick leave to frontline workers with COVID and providing support for California businesses, we can help protect the health of our workforce, while also ensuring that businesses and our economy are able to thrive.”

For the most part, the new Covid leave outlined in California Assembly Bill 84 appears to reinstate worker benefits that had expired at the end of September last year. (The exact COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave 2021 expiration date was September 30th.) While it at first seemed unlikely that an extension would happen with the expiration of COVID pay after September 30, 2021, that is exactly what this legislation enacted.

In fact, supplemental paid sick leave due to COVID-19 applies retroactively to the start of the 2022 calendar year. The new leave program extends through the end of September. One silver lining is that smaller businesses are not affected by the change it will only apply to business owners who have 26 or more employees. For those employers, AB 84 provides up to two 40-hour batches of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for employees.


So, how will this affect employers who still must make their payroll, meet their customers’ needs and in all likelihood be grappling with at least some sort of supply-chain shortages or challenges? The simplest answer is this: it’s complicated and there are some very mixed views.

The California Chamber of Commerce, a leading business advocate in Sacramento, was involved in the discussions at some level and provided input during legislative negotiations. Chamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera offered this written response about the new legislation:

“Based on concerns and input from CalChamber, the Governor’s office considerably improved their original proposal to make reinstatement of the leave far more affordable and manageable. While we understand this additional leave will be shouldered by many employers, the proposal is more limited in scope and duration than what was originally discussed.”

She also said that healthy workers and healthy customers are good for business.

“The proposal announced today is a balanced approach to protect both workers and our economy,” she said. “By allowing workers who contract COVID-19 to stay home until they test negative, employers are, once again, leading the way on efforts to contain the virus and creating healthier workplaces that are safe for both employees and customers.”

The California Chamber also said that the legislation ensures that the rate of pay for Covid leave will match existing sick leave rates and will make reporting wage statements simpler.

No doubt this may present some challenges to employers and business owners.

Businesses were reimbursed last year for the supplemental paid leave through a now-expired federal tax credit. So, it seems businesses will have to absorb at least part of the cost for the additional paid sick leave. With a state budget surplus in the billions in California, asking business owners to foot the bill strikes the wrong chord with many.

Bakersfield Assemblymember Vince Fong voted against the sick leave legislation and was quoted in the LA Times as saying it would hurt small businesses.

“This proposal is going to layer additional costs and burdens on top of an already difficult business environment,” he reportedly said.

While the true silver lining may seem hard to find, there are additional restored tax credits or grants for certain types of businesses. Taking advantage of these opportunities is often time-sensitive with many hoops to jump through. This can feel overwhelming to business owners but is well within our wheelhouse at Proper Defense. We are uniquely qualified to help businesses navigate the continuously updated requirements of state and federal employment law while making it as financially advantageous for them as possible.


When it comes to complying with the web of laws, policies, and mandates affecting employers, we simply cannot overstate the value of education and consultation with a qualified attorney. At Proper Defense, we routinely work with our clients to limit their exposure to litigation and fines.

For a true advocate that you can trust, in a judgment-free zone, contact Proper Defense Law Corporation today. For a FREE consultation in the Fresno area, call (559) 825-3800. You can reach us at our Beverly Hills location by calling (424) 284-4066. You can also schedule an appointment online on our Contact Us page. It gets better with Proper Defense, we promise

We know we can successfully end your search for a ‘Labor Law Attorney, COVID-19.’ Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Fresno, Hanford, Madera, Merced, Tulare, and Visalia are all areas we serve.

In addition to this information, available resources can be found by searches such as: sick leave California 2021, California paid sick leave 2020, California paid sick leave poster 2021, unpaid sick leave California, pto vs sick time California, covid pay California 2021, covid pay extension 2021, covid vaccine mandate California, will covid pay be extended, Newsom covid pay, covid sick leave 2022 California, covid pay extension 2021, families first coronavirus response act extension 2021, paid leave for covid 2021, covid pay California 2021, covid pay 2021, covid pay California 2021 less than 25 employees, and ab 84 and sb 95.

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