The Latest – Wednesday, Feb. 9
Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign legislation to extend statewide paid COVID-19 sick leave Wednesday morning during a visit to the Bay Area.
Original story below:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The California Legislature has approved a bill requiring workers receive up to two weeks of paid time off if they get sick from the coronavirus.
“Today’s vote on this bill is one of a social and moral consciousness because COVID-19 is truly a life and death issue,” said Assembly Member Wendy Carillo, D-Los Angeles.
Workers will be entitled to 40 hours of extra sick pay for reasons related to the virus, including isolation, vaccine and booster appointments and caring for sick family members.
The paid leave is retroactive back to Jan. 1 and will expire at the end of September. Small businesses with fewer than 26 employees are exempt.
But, this round of paid leave is different. Businesses and employers will have to shoulder the costs, even as the state is set to see at least a $45 billion surplus.
“It’s an unnecessary burden when we have the capabilities to step in and lead,” said State Sen. Andreas Borgeas, R-Fresno.
Lawmakers noted last year that federal tax credits helped offset the cost. The Legislative Analyst’s Office told lawmakers the total could be between $500 million to $1.4 billion for businesses across the state.
“If you are a restaurant struggling with workforce issues, if you are a nonprofit, a homeless shelter, for example, you are now going to incur a significant amount of cost with no ability to absorb it,” said Assembly Member Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield.
Ahead of the vote, several business groups sent a letter to the Legislature saying they are opposed in part because of the burdensome cost, added regulations and inconsistency with Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
Assembly Member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said the Legislature would try to work on tax credits and grants for businesses as it prepares the state budget for June.
“It’s something we continue to talk about,” Ting said.