2021 California COVID-19 & Sick Leave Laws | What You Should Know

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021, California’s legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom have passed a number of laws impacting California employees and employers. The new legislation is effective as of January 1, 2021 and addresses several topics including sick leave, workers’ compensation, and safety regulations. Here is a look at some of the new regulations.

AB 685 – Written Notice of COVID-19 Exposure

AB 685 requires employers to provide all employees with written notice within one business day of learning of a potential exposure to COVID-19. The notice must include information about COVID-19-related benefits and the safety protocols that the employer plans to implement according to CDC guidelines. Employers must also notify their local public health agency within 48 hours of a workplace outbreak.

SB 1383 – Expansion of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

SB 1383 expands the California Family Rights Act to require businesses with five or more employees to provide 12 weeks of mandatory family leave per year. To be eligible for leave under the newly expanded CFRA, an employee must have at least 12 months of service with the employer and at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period. With the expansion of the CFRA, family medical leave will now apply to much smaller employers.

SB 1159 – Workers’ Compensation Presumption

SB 1159 creates a presumption that certain workers’ illnesses or deaths from COVID-19 are work-related and entitles those employees to workers’ compensation. This applies if the employee tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of working at their place of employment, the employee worked at their place of employment on or after July 6, 2020, and the employee’s positive test occurred during a period of an outbreak at the employee’s workplace between July 6, 2020 – January 1, 2023.

AB 2399 – Expanded Paid Family Leave

AB 2399 expands California’s Paid Family Leave program to include additional coverage for active military members and their families. The bill provides wage replacement benefits for workers to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or for baby bonding. 

AB 2017 –  Designation of Employee Sick Leave

AB 2017 modifies California Labor Code Section 233 to provide that an employee has sole discretion to designate sick leave when caring for a sick family member. Violation of this law entitles the employee to reinstatement and actual damages, or one day’s pay, whichever is greater.

To learn about the latest federal stimulus and COVID-19 relief package that extended unemployment benefits for millions of Americans affected by the pandemic, click here.

Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator 

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company.  She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces..

For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with Angela on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. 

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.


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