ARPA & CA Paid Sick Leave

Thursday, April 8th, 2021
Legislation was recently passed at the federal and state level regarding COVID-19.  Below are important points about each piece of recently passed legislation with links to more information on each law. This is a very brief overview of the legislation and, because of the complexity and amount of context in each law, is not inclusive to everything contained in each piece of legislation.  


The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law on March 11, 2021 by President Joe Biden and is the third federal COVID-19 relief package.  It is sometimes referred to as the new FFCRA.  Here is some information about the ARPA:

  • The act continues to apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
  • It is effective from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021.
  • The act effectively continues as a tax statute.  It is not mandatory for any employer.  Employers are not required to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) or Emergency Paid Family Medical Leave (EFML).  If employers decide to provide this leave and abide by the guidelines of the FFCRA, they are entitled to certain tax credits.
  • The old reasons to take EPSL remain the same, but the new law has expanded the reasons for EPSL to now include taking time off to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine; or to recover from a vaccine-related injury, illness, or other condition related to the COVID-19 vaccination; or while an employee is seeking or awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test or diagnosis due to a COVID-19 exposure or because the employer requested a test or diagnosis.
  • Employees who already used their EPSL allotment may get another 80 hours starting April 1, 2021.
  • The reasons for EPSL and EFML are now the same.  An employer can provide EFML for all qualifying reasons under EPSL.
  • Employers are not able to discriminate against certain classes of employees.  Employers who chose to provide EPSL and EFML must do so for all classes of employees.
  • The ARPA provides other relief not related to leave.  You can read about this information in the SHRM Rescue Plan Summary.


Links to more information:


California’s COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 95, which brings back the state’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.  SB 95 greatly expands California’s previous COVID-19 sick leave law.  Here is some important information to know about California’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave:

  • Employers must start providing this new leave on March 29, 2021 and the leave expires on September 30, 2021.
  • The new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave applies to all employers with more than 25 employees.  This is a huge expansion, as the original supplemental sick leave law applied to employers with 500 or more employees.
  • All employees working for covered employers are eligible for leave.
  • The reasons for taking leave have been expanded from what was included in the original sick leave.  Qualifying reasons for taking leave are included in the attached links.  
  • Employers cannot request a medical certification before granting leave.
  • Full-time employees are eligible for 80 hours of leave.  The amount of leave for part-time employees is prorated.
  • SB 95 provides a fresh bank of paid leave, in addition to already existing paid sick leave under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Family law.  Employers cannot require an employee to use other paid or unpaid leaves before the employee uses COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.
  • Employers are required to provide notice to their employees informing them of their rights to supplemental paid sick leave under the new law.  Here is a model notice.  This notice should be provided to employees in the same manner as you provide other employment law posters.
  • The law applies retroactively to January 1, 2021.  Employers will have to make retroactive payments for leave taken for any of the qualifying reasons between January 1, 2021 and March 28, 2021.  The employee may make the request by orally or in writing.


Links to more information:

And of course, if you need more information or some help with implementing any of these laws, please reach out to us at