Effort Underway To Expand Paid Sick Leave For California Workers
It is a terrible conundrum faced by workers in California every day, made worse by the pandemic. You feel sick, but you’ve used up all your sick leave. You live paycheck to paycheck so you have no choice but to go to work.
Democratic San Diego Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez is backing legislation that would extend paid sick leave.
“We need emergency care for our workers, that’s clear," Gonzalez said in a Wednesday news conference.
Gonzalez is partnering with Democratic Los Angeles Assembly member Wendy Carrillo on a bill that would extend the current three sick days required by state law to two weeks.
If passed in its current form, the coverage would be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year and would expire on Sept. 30, 2021.
Wednesday’s virtual news conference featured Bartolome Perez, a worker at a Los Angeles McDonald’s restaurant. Supporters of extending sick leave say Perez’s story drives home the importance of getting the legislation passed into law as soon as possible.
“On December 16th, a coworker of mine got sick on the job and our employer did not tell us until the 20th. They waited four days because they didn’t want to quarantine any of us, and as a result I became ill on the 21st,” Perez said.
He went on to say that his wife, children and grandchildren then all got COVID-19.
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“This is about the safety of our community and actually protecting small businesses. What we know is this: Workers who don’t have paid sick leave, especially undocumented workers who are very vulnerable, will go to work anyway if they’re not feeling well. They have to ... And often this will create a workplace outbreak. It’ll affect customers. And when there is a workplace outbreak, that means higher costs for the businesses. They often have to shut down,” said Gonzalez.
Workers had been covered for extended sick leave under legislation passed last spring by Congress. But those protections expired on Dec. 31 of last year.
Gonzalez said she and Carrillo are making some minor changes to the bill right now. She said she hopes to have it on the governor’s desk in the next week or two.