California will require companies to provide workers recovering from the coronavirus or caring for infected family members, up to two weeks of additional paid sick leave, under a deal announced by the governor on Tuesday. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders.
The agreement would restore a benefit adopted by the state in 2021 that expired at the end of September. It was sought after by organized workers when the Omicron variant exploded, but employers opposed it, saying the benefit would be prohibitively expensive for them.
The state legislature is expected to expedite a bill to turn the agreement into law. If approved, the paid leave requirement would apply to qualifying absences between January 1 and September 30 at companies with more than 25 employees. The bill would also restore certain 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. “, Mr. Newsom said in a joint statement. with Acting State Senate Speaker 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 agreement also calls for funding to strengthen coronavirus testing and vaccination in the state and to combat misinformation, they said.
California law requires employers to provide a minimum of three paid sick days per year. When the pandemic hit, the state upped that requirement, leveraging state and federal laws and tax credits to add up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for workers who were infected or cared for infected relatives.
This expansion was allowed to expire on September 30 after the state reopened, but the emergence of new outbreaks of cases prompted unions to call for it to be reinstated. Companies struggling with staff shortages have protested that the threshold for paid leave eligibility was too lax and that giving employees more paid sick leave deterred some from getting vaccinated.
Legislative officials said the new version would, if passed, require employers to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to full-time workers, and extend that by an additional 40 hours if the worker provides proof. of a positive coronavirus test result. The requirement for part-time workers would be the number of hours the worker has typically worked in a week, to start with, and then that same amount if the worker tests positive.
California union leaders applauded the deal.
“UFCW members have risked their lives and the lives of their family members” by showing up for work during the pandemic, Andrea Zinder, president of the Western States Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said in a statement.
Rheannon Ramos, a grocery store employee at Stater Bros. in Southern California, added that “the past two years have been filled with new stress after new stress, and today’s announcement signifies a real relief to have to take on these worries.”