SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Paid sick leave for Californians with COVID-19 is about to return.
State lawmakers are working to keep small and large business doors open amid the omicron variant surge. Their latest effort is bringing back COVID-19 sick pay and reimbursing employers.
“The governor and legislative leadership, not just acting, but acting with urgency, we could see this bill move and get signed by the governor, potentially by the end of next week,” said Steve Smith with the California Labor Federation.
With restaurants and other kind of businesses facing never before seen staffing shortages, employees are making up for absences by working longer hours, leading to burnout.
“Just today, yesterday I was working overtime. Today, I open. I’m going to close today too. It’s been very hard just, just working,” explained Chong Vue, the manager at Koja Kitchen.
Businesses in downtown Sacramento are facing staffing shortages but managers told FOX40 if the reinstatement of COVID-19 pay passes soon, it’s good their employees won’t have to choose between being paid and staying home because they’re sick.
The new legislation is similar to the COVID-19 sick pay that expired in September, but this time it would require a positive COVID-19 test result.
It applies to all businesses with 26 or more employees.
It would require employers to provide workers with up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to recover from COVID-19 or care for a family member with the virus, and would also help those businesses by restoring tax credits.
Labor unions and chamber of commerce leaders said they are grateful.
“We appreciate that they’re continuing to keep small business top of mind, and we ask that, as we continue to make these choices, we really find that balance between keeping everybody safe, keeping everybody protected and keeping our doors open. So, our economy can continue to rebound, you know, as we’re starting to see after the first of the year,” said Amanda Blackwood, CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Health experts continue to advise people to stay home if they are sick, even though less hands-on-deck means more work for others.
If the legislation is passed, workers will get paid again while off the job, healing with some additional relief.
“Just stay home, take time for all these hard works. It’s definitely good,” Vue said.
The agreement includes several proposals Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced in his 2022-2023 budget plan that might help with the cost of providing sick pay to workers.