Federal Paid Sick Leave (HR 6201) for IHSS and WPCS Providers – FAQs

On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency in California as a result of the threat of the COVID-19 virus. Since then, SEIU Local 2015 and our 400,000 members have been working on the frontlines of this crisis to protect our most vulnerable populations; our seniors and those living with disabilities. At Local 2015, we believe that all frontline workers, particularly those in the long term care and health care settings, have RIGHTS:

  • The right to SAFETY through access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 
  • The right to TRAINING to deal with a global pandemic 
  • The right to FAIR COMPENSATION for the heroic work they are doing
  • The right to ADVOCATE as part of their union for job and community standards
  • The right to KNOW what state and federal policies impact their work, their lives and their communities

As part of our advocacy at both the State and Federal level, SEIU Local 2015 worked with the California Department of Social Services to ensure that all 510,000 IHSS providers could access the Federal extended Paid Sick Leave benefits should they need it. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to access and use the sick leave benefit. 

How much sick time could I be eligible for under this new law?

Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave.

Example: If the Monthly Provider Paid Hours that the provider normally works amounts to 160 or more hours per month, the provider is eligible for 80 hours of COVID-19 sick leave.

Part-time employees who work less than forty hours a week (or 160 hours a month) are entitled to the average number of hours that employee works over a two-week period. The county must calculate an average of total monthly paid hours for the previous six (6) months and divide the number of hours in half, which results in the average hours for a 2-week period.

Example: Mary works a total of 120 hours a month for her two recipients, which is less than 160 hours per month. So, the state will calculate the number of sick leave hours Mary is eligible for by dividing her total monthly hours (120) by 2 to get the number of paid sick leave hours Mary is eligible for. 120/2 = 60 hours of paid sick leave that Mary is eligible for.

What if I’m a newer provider – how will my eligibility be calculated?

If a provider has less than six months of employment history, the county staff shall use the hours available in the payment history in CMIPS for the calculation.

Example: Frank has been working for one consumer for 5 months. He works 100 hours per month. So, the county will divide 100 by 2 to get the number of hours Frank is eligible for, which is 50 hours.

For providers that have been newly assigned to a recipient and do not have any payroll history, or less than 2-weeks of payroll history, counties will divide the recipient’s monthly authorized hours in half to determine the number of hours of COVID-19 sick leave the provider is eligible to receive. If the provider is scheduled to work for more than one recipient, all of the recipients’ hours should be combined to determine the number of hours the provider is eligible to receive.

Example: Sarah has only been an IHSS provider for one week. She has two clients, Kelly, who gets 40 hours of IHSS a month and Jenny, who gets 50 hours of IHSS a month. Between the two consumers, Sarah will work 90 hours a month. The county will calculate the number of sick leave hours Sarah is eligible for by dividing 90 hours by 2, which is 45 hours.

What counts as a valid reason to go on leave due to COVID-19 under federal paid sick leave?

You may qualify if your COVID-19 related leave falls under the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider;
  5. The employee is caring for his/her child whose school or childcare facilities have been closed, or whose childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar concerns.

Do I have to provide any form of proof for requesting the COVID-19 sick leave based on the reasons listed above?

No – you do not need to provide your consumer(s), the county or the state with proof.

How long is this benefit available?

Federal paid sick leave is effective on April 2, 2020 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.

Are IHSS/WPCS workers eligible for this benefit?

IHSS and WPCS workers are entitled to COVID-19 sick leave benefits if, during this timeframe, the provider is unable to work due to one of the reasons listed above.

This includes (and is not limited to) the following scenarios:

  1. The IHSS/WPCS provider has been advised to by a health care provider to quarantine or isolate themselves because he/she is a member of a high-risk group, such as being age 65 or older or having an existing respiratory, cardiac, or immuno-deficiency related health condition;
  2. The IHSS/WPCS provider is subject to quarantine or isolation order as a result of possible exposure to COVID-19 through an infected person or due to recent travel outside the United States;
  3. The IHSS/WPCS provider has been advised by a health care provider to avoid the IHSS provider’s high-risk recipient due to the provider having associated with COVID-19 infection (i.e. fever, coughing, etc.);
  4. The IHSS/WPCS provider has been informed by their recipient that the recipient’s health care provider has advised the recipient that they are subject to a quarantine or isolation order and the IHSS provider is informed not to enter the home to provide services;
  5. The IHSS/WPCS provider cannot provide services to their recipient(s) due to the need to care for his/her child whose school or childcare facilities have been closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

How should a provider apply for federal paid sick leave?

The provider should contact the recipient(s) they work for and inform them they will be out sick, and if the recipient needs to identify another provider, advise them to contact the county IHSS office. Or, for WPCS providers, they should contact DHCS for assistance at (916) 552-9105.

The provider should complete and sign the COVID-19 ONLY – IHSS Provider Sick Leave Request Form (TEMP 3021). The Form requires the provider to indicate the recipient(s) they work for, the specific reason they are claiming COVID-19 sick leave, and the applicable dates of the leave.

The Form will be submitted to the county IHSS office for processing. WPCS providers will submit the form to the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

You can access the TEMP 3021 form by going to cdss.ca.gov or calling the Local 2015 Member Action Center at 855-810-2015

How will I receive this benefit?

CDSS will pay providers with a one-time payment for up to 80 hours of sick leave, consistent with the number of eligible hours they have for the COVID-19 sick leave. Upon final approval, the provider will receive a one-time payment either through direct deposit or paper check, however the provider has selected to receive their regular payment.

Please note that county staff must place any provider on leave for the entire 2-week period if they are claiming COVID-19 sick leave for themselves, i.e. reasons 1-3 on the list above.

When will CDSS mail me the sick leave forms that I need? Will they be translated?

CDSS began mailing these notices and TEMP 3021 forms to IHSS/WPCS recipients and providers on April 17, 2020. For those IHSS/WPCS recipients and providers who are registered on the Electronic Services Portal website, the notice will be sent via email. Notices and the sick leave request form will be translated into the three threshold languages (Armenian, Chinese, and Spanish) and will also be sent as soon as they are available.

I work at a nursing home – am I eligible for this federal paid sick leave?

At this time, no. We are working hard to make sure nursing home workers will have access to this benefit. In the meantime, you may be eligible for other forms of leave depending on your situation, including:

  1. unemployment insurance – for those who have lost a job or have had their hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19,
  2. disability insurance – if you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness
  3. paid family leave – if you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19
  4. worker’s compensation – for those who are unable to do their usual job because they were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of their work.

Reach out to EDD at edd.ca.gov, if you would like to file a claim.

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