California will require businesses to provide workers who are recovering from the coronavirus, or caring for infected family members, up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave, according to an agreement announced Tuesday by Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders in the Express.
The deal would reinstate a state-approved benefit in 2021 that expired at the end of September. It was sought after by organized labor when the Omicron variant emerged, but employers objected, saying the benefit would be prohibitively expensive for them.
The state legislature is expected to fast-track a bill to turn the agreement into law. If approved, the paid leave requirement would apply to eligible absences between January 1 and September 30 at companies with more than 25 employees. The bill would also restore some business tax credits to help businesses absorb the cost of additional paid time off.
“By extending sick leave to frontline workers with Covid and providing support to California businesses, we can help protect the health of our workforce, while ensuring businesses and our economy can thrive,” Newsom said in a joint statement. with Acting State Senate President Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
They added that lawmakers “will continue to work to address the additional needs of small businesses through the budget.”
The deal also calls for funds to beef up coronavirus testing and vaccinations in the state and combat misinformation, they said.
California law requires employers to offer a minimum of three paid sick days per year. When the pandemic hit, the state raised that requirement, taking advantage of state and federal laws and tax credits to add up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for workers who were infected or caring for infected family members.
That expansion was allowed to expire on September 30 after the state reopened, but the arrival of further spikes in cases prompted calls from unions to reinstate it. Companies battling staff shortages protested that the eligibility threshold for paid time off was too lax and that giving employees more paid sick leave deterred some from getting vaccinated.
Legislative officials said the new version, if passed, would require employers to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to full-time workers, and extend it an additional 40 hours if the worker provides proof of a positive test result. the coronavirus test. The requirement for part-time workers would be the number of hours the worker normally worked in a week, to begin with, and then that same number again if the worker tests positive.
California labor leaders applauded the agreement.
“UFCW members have been risking their lives and the lives of their families” by reporting for work during the pandemic, Andrea Zinder, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, said in a statement.
Rheannon Ramos, a grocery store worker at Stater Bros. in Southern California, added, “The last two years have been filled with new stress after new stress, and today’s announcement is a real relief not to have to carry with these concerns.