• Finley Employment Law

COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave for Food Sector Workers


Effective April 1, 2020, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the "FFCRA") requires employers wither fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave benefits to employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19. However, many food sector workers are not covered by the FFCRA.


Accordingly, on April 16, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-51-20 (the "Executive Order") to provide supplemental paid sick leave to food sector workers who are not covered by the FFCRA. More specifically, the Executive Order requires supplemental paid sick leave for certain food sector workers at companies with 500 or more employees. The Executive Order is effective immediately.


Here are 10 things you should know about the Executive Order:


1. The Executive Order covers all Food Sector Workers (defined below) who work for or through a Hiring Entity (defined below) - even if the Food Sector Worker is not technically an employee, and instead, is an independent contractor or "gig economy" worker.


2. The Executive Order defines "Hiring Entity" as any kind of private entity that has 500 or more employees in the United States.


3. The Executive Order defines "Food Sector Worker" as a person who satisfies all of the below requirements:


(a) the person is an essential worker (and is therefore exempt from any statewide stay-at-home order); and


(b) the person performs work outside of his/her home; and


(c) the person satisfies one of the following requirements at (i), (ii), or (iii) below:


(i) works in an industry or occupation defined in Industrial Welfare Commission ("IWC") Wage Order 3-2001 section 2(B) (the canning, freezing, and preserving industry), or in IWC Wage Order No. 8-2001 section 2(H) (industries that handle products after harvest), or in IWC Wage Order No. 13-2001 section 2(H) (industries that prepare agricultural products, on the farm), or in IWC Wage Order No. 14-2001 section 2(D) (general agricultural occupations); or


(ii) works for a Hiring Entity that operates a food facility (for instance, a supermarket or restaurant); or


(iii) delivers food from a food facility (for instance, a supermarket or restaurant) for or through a Hiring Entity.


In other words, the Executive Orders covers, among other persons: farm workers, grocery store workers, restaurant workers, and workers who deliver food items.


4. A Food Sector Worker is entitled to supplemental paid sick leave if he/she is unable to work due to any one of the following three reasons:


(a) the Food Sector Worker is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order because of COVID-19; or


(b) a health care provider has advised the Food Sector Worker to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns relating to COVID-19; or


(c) the Hiring Entity has prohibited the Food Sector Worker from working due to health concerns relating to the potential transmission of COVID-19.


5. A Food Sector Worker is entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if he/she meets either of the following requirements: (a) The Hiring Entity considers the Food Sector Worker to work "full-time;" or (b) The Food Sector Worker worked, or was scheduled to work, at least 40 hours per week for the Hiring Entity in the two weeks prior to the date that he/she took supplemental paid sick leave.


6. A Food Sector Worker who is not deemed a "full-time" worker may nonetheless receive paid sick leave if he/she has a normal weekly schedule or works a variable number of hours. The Executive Order sets forth a formula for calculating paid sick leave for such non full-time Food Sector Workers.

7. The Food Sector Worker is entitled to supplemental paid sick leave at an hourly rate that is equal to the highest of: (a) his/her regular rate of pay for the last pay period: (b) the California minimum wage; or (c) the local minimum wage.


8. A Hiring Entity is not required to pay a Food Sector Worker more than (a) $511 per day and (b) $5,110 total in supplemental paid sick leave.

9. The Executive Order excludes private entities that already provide (a) supplemental benefits (such as paid leave) to workers at a level at least equal to the benefits provided by the Executive Order and (b) for the same purposes as the Executive Order.


10. The Executive Order does not apply to public employers (i.e., local or state government agencies).


Read the State of California Department of Industrial Relations "CA COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for Food Sector Workers" poster here.


If you have questions about California's new law mandating COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (contact@finleyemplaw.com) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Roseville, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Concord.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.



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