Dental offices, along with other business, are subject to federal and state paid sick leave laws related to COVID-19, which were recently passed at the federal and state level.
The changes include provisions that expand sick leave eligibility, including the broadening of qualifying reasons for when employees can take time off.
The American Rescue Plan Act extends tax credits to employers when they continue to offer paid and emergency leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Employees getting vaccinated, recovering from complications of the vaccine or awaiting test or diagnosis results related to the virus are eligible.
In a follow-up to the sick leave laws, which are voluntary at the federal level, California adopted new mandates. Under the policy, some businesses of a certain size must grant their staff supplemental paid sick leave. California is asking businesses to expand the number of covered employees, offer an additional 80 hours of leave and include additional qualifying reasons for leave.
Under the mandate, dental practices with 26 or more employees will offer supplemental paid sick leave to their employees who are unable to work in person or work from home.
Some of the acceptable reasons that qualify for leave include being in quarantine, having vaccine appointments, feeling symptoms related to COVID-19 or caring for family members and children.
In addition, employees are free to use their COVID-19 supplemental leave before any other saved up time off. They may also ask for any retroactive payments for leave taken between the beginning of the year and March if the reasons for their absences qualify under the expanded criteria. Employers that offer supplemental leave after Jan. 1 for any of the qualifying reasons might be able to count those hours toward the new requirements.
Employers must share the new requirements with their teams. They can send electronic versions but should also post physical signage in common office areas for everyone to see.
The new state sick leave laws went into effect March 28 but will expire on Sept. 30, per Senate Bill 85.