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Gov. Brown Signs Bill Providing 3 Sick Days To California Workers

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill mandating three paid sick days per year for California workers in Los Angeles, Sept. 10, 2014. With Brown, from left, are Restaurant Opportunities Center organizer Manuel Villanueva, and state Assemblymembers Evan McLaughlin and Lorena Gonzalez.

A bill authored by a San Diego legislator to provide three annual paid sick days to workers in California was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown signed AB 1522, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, at the state building in Los Angeles.

"Whether you're a dishwasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family's health and your job," Brown said. "Make no mistake, California is putting its workers first."

The governor said 40 percent of workers in the state don't accrue paid sick leave. California is just the second state in the nation to have such a requirement for workers who would not otherwise be granted sick time, according to the governor's office. Connecticut has a similar law, but Gonzalez said California's is more expansive.

"We become the first state in the nation to guarantee paid sick days for every single private-sector worker in the state — no matter what industry they work in, no matter if they are part-time or seasonal, and regardless of the size of their employer," she said. "This means more than 6.5 million more workers in this state will be able to take up to three days off when they or their child is sick without fearing the loss of income, hours or their job."

The law, which will take effect July 1, requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work 30 or more days within a year from the start of their employment. Workers will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Over the objections of union leaders, the bill was amended to provide exemptions for health-care aides who work with disabled or elderly residents through the state's In-Home Supportive Services program.

The bill was strongly opposed by Republicans and business groups, who said the requirement will create a burden for employers. Assemblyman Donald Wagner, R-Irvine, called it "ill-considered" and "heavy-handed."

Supporters say employees who do not receive paid leave have to come to work while ill, even in jobs that involve public contact or food preparation. Many workers also have to choose between going to work or caring for a sick loved one, they say.

In San Diego, meanwhile, a new ordinance that will raise the minimum wage to a level above the state standard provides five paid sick days.

Opponents are gathering signatures to overturn the San Diego ordinance, primarily because of the minimum wage increase.

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