COVID-19 sick pay has helped many residents across California when it came to being exposed to COVID-19 or having the virus. But after this week, some people worry they’ll be left with the burden of taking time off they can't afford.
Extra sick leave for COVID-19, a law that was put into effect in California in early March of 2021, required companies with more than 25 employees to offer 80 hours of supplemental sick leave for COVID-19. That included quarantine and vaccine side effects.
Supplemental sick leave related to COVID-19 is set to end this Thursday.
"Now of course we have that ending and so the questions from all of our clients are, what happens after this week?” said CEO of Your People Professionals, Sandra Dickerson.
According to Dickerson, with the federal COVID-19 sick pay expiring and employers no longer being able to take an offset in tax credits, that becomes a direct expense on businesses - something many can’t afford.
This doesn’t mean COVID-19 sick pay is completely gone.
"What we still have and what small businesses need to evaluate is, as of this Friday, we still have Cal/OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standard,” Dickerson said.
Meaning those who get sick or exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace can get paid for their time. This will not cover an employee who gets sick outside of the workplace, which has some residents worried it’s too soon.
"A lot of people are getting sick. They need the money even if they can’t go to work and if they didn’t pay for it, maybe people will be tempted to go to work anyway,” said Orcutt resident Kathy Bachmann.
With children back in the classroom, a potential exposure causing a parent to miss work could affect many families financially. Dickerson adds, in that case, other applicable leave laws may work.
"That’s been the challenge in a lot of this. There’s no black or white answer for each situation. There are a lot of nuances and a lot of fact-finding to look at and evaluate what’s applicable for each situation because they’re not all the same,” Dickerson said.