When looking at job opportunities, one of the most significant factors in determining where you work is your employer’s benefits. Paid time off (PTO) is a company policy that combines all types of leave time or time off, such as sick leave and vacation time, into one package. PTO allows employees to use the time off they have acquired as needed.

Different companies tend to have different PTO policies, so it may not be clear what you are legally entitled to receive PTO for. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, people continue to get tested, and those who test positive would understandably want to quarantine at home safely. However, in light of the circumstances, it is unclear if employees must receive PTO if they test positive for COVID. PTO is an essential aspect of any job and a guarantee your employer must abide by. Employees who have been denied their right to PTO should contact a lawyer experienced with California labor laws.

The Expiration of the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

For some time, employees could rely on the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA mandated that public employers and private businesses with fewer than 500 employees provide COVID-19-related leave. This act expired at the end of 2020, but state and local lawmakers have stepped in to fill the void it left behind.

In California, employers were still required to provide paid sick leave under a statewide mandate and local ordinances. Senate Bill No. 95 mandated that employers with at least 25 employees provide supplemental sick leave for employees affected by COVID. If a full-time employee had been working for the same company for at least 30 days, then that employee was entitled to supplemental paid sick leave. This bill also applied to employees who worked at least 40 hours a week on average two weeks before taking the supplemental paid sick leave.

Employees were eligible for leave if they were unable to work either in person or from home due to a number of possible reasons, such as caring for a family member with COVID or dealing with the symptoms of the vaccine. Under this bill, employees who had to quarantine or isolate themselves based on guidelines from state or local authorities, the CDC, or a health care provider were eligible for paid leave. SB-95 was effective through September 30, 2021 for 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave but it has not been extended.

Can You Still Get PTO for a Positive COVID Test without SB-95?

Without SB-95, employees exposed to COVID-19 at work can still get paid sick leave under the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standards on COVID-19 infection prevention. Employees can also use regular paid sick leave, which is protected from retaliation by the Labor Code. In addition, employees who contract COVID-19 can use the state’s disability insurance and their workers’ compensation benefits to take time off.

Get Legal Advice from Knowledgeable California Employment Lawyers

If you are a worker in California who was denied paid sick leave after getting the coronavirus, you still have rights. You can report the violation to the Labor Commissioner’s Office, but you can also discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable California employment attorney at Blackstone Law.

Leading California employment and labor attorneys make up the Blackstone Law team. We will help you secure the compensation you deserve by leveraging our years of experience and valuable resources. We are happy to offer award-winning legal assistance to our clients using our extensive experience with California labor and employment laws. Call us at (310) 956-4054 or submit our online contact form to learn more about your rights as an employee.