Important Updates on COVID Sick Leave and Background Checks

September 24, 2021 8:37 am
Expiration of COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave
State and federal COVID paid time off benefits – emergency paid sick leave, expanded FMLA, and supplemental paid sick leave – have existed in some form since April 2020. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these benefits are set to expire at the end of this month on September 30. This means that California will no longer require employers of 26 or more to provide supplemental paid sick leave. It also means that the federal government will no longer provide payroll tax credits for COVID paid time off.
Even though these benefits will no longer be available, what isn’t changing are the Cal/OSHA and health department requirements to maintain a safe workplace. Unvaccinated employees who are exposed to a COVID-19 case and symptomatic employees must still be excluded from work – and now, there will be no paid time off benefit to help them make ends meet.
What is your organization’s plan starting October 1st
You might consider dusting off the laptop computers you finally collected back from employees returning to the office, so they may continue to work from home when needed. You might consider offering additional sick leave benefits (without the tax credit) so employees don’t feel compelled to hide symptoms in order to stay at work. You might even consider mandating the COVID vaccine for your employees. State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave benefits will be available through the EDD, and may provide partial support.
We understand these can be difficult decisions. Availability of extra sick leave has made it fairly simple to send employees home whenever there was a concern about COVID. We recommend giving employees advance notice of their options for work location and income replacement if they must be excluded from the office after Sept. 30.
Privacy Protections and Background Check Procedures
A recent California court decision is having a significant impact on the way background investigations are conducted using electronic criminal case records.
In order to ensure the accuracy of background investigation reports, Sierra HR Partners uses online records to verify multiple data points for each applicant such as birth date, driver’s license, and address. This is how we confirm that a criminal conviction listed for “Dave Smith” is actually associated with the specific Dave Smith a manager is hoping to hire. Our state has existing laws that protect individuals’ private information from being accessible by the public online. While most criminal records are generally considered public information, “personal identifiers” are not. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit successfully argued that allowing a criminal case index to be searched using a birthdate or other personal information is a violation of the law. As a result, many counties, including Fresno, are removing this data from their online search engines.
What does this mean for you? If Sierra HR Partners conducts background investigations for your business, you will continue to receive thorough, accurate reports… as efficiently as possible. We are adapting our search procedures to include in-person access to local criminal records when needed to verify an applicant’s identity. It may be necessary for us to contact court offices in other counties by telephone or mail. In the event of a delay in your completed report, we will always communicate the status so you can plan for your new hire’s start date and any other steps of the hiring process. Our commitment to providing clients with timely, valuable information will not change!
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