On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, and the President declared a National Emergency on March 13, 2020. Consequently, the City Council ratified a local emergency declaration on March 17, 2020 and most recently, on March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued a statewide Stay at Home Order.
Given the potential impact this pandemic could have on our employees and their families, it is reasonable to expect that some employees will be affected. As a result, it is recommended the City’s Catastrophic Leave Plan be updated to include a provision authorizing the City Manager to advance up to an additional eighty (80) hours of sick leave to affected employees. An advance would be considered for employees that have exhausted all other available leave balances and would be at the City Manager’s sole discretion. The City Manager may take this action during any officially declared emergency or disaster because of the potential impact to more than just a few City employees and the value of the current employee donation program would be ineffective.
The leave advance and repayment terms would be at the discretion of the City Manager, with the maximum available advance being eighty (80) hours of sick leave and the maximum repayment term being 2 years. Repayment would generally occur through the implementation of a modification to the future sick leave accrual rate, which would be modified until the complete advance was returned. If the employee separated employment before the advance was completely returned, a deduction would be processed on the employee’s final paycheck equivalent to the remaining numbers of unreturned hours multiplied by their final hourly rate of pay.
This sick leave advance would provide City staff with another option in addition to the new federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family Leave adopted by H.R. 6201, Familes First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress and just signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020 but has not yet become effective. A fact sheet explaining the law is attached for your information.