California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill expanding paid sick leave protections through Sept. 30 of this year for workers who contract COVID-19 or must care for family members who contract the virus.
SB 95, authored by State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), entitles covered employees to up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework for a reason related to COVID-19. The protections are retroactive to sick leave taken beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
“Paid sick leave gives workers the time they need to care for themselves and loved ones while keeping their coworkers, families and communities safe,” Newsom said in a statement. “Even as case rates and hospitalizations decline and vaccinations ramp up, we can’t let our guard down and must do all we can to stop this virus from spreading.”
The legislation builds on action California took at the start of the pandemic last year, when Newsom signed an executive order expanding paid sick leave to food sector workers. In September the governor signed AB 1867, which expanded paid sick leave access to employers with more than 500 employees, and to both public and private employers of first responders and health care workers who opted not to cover their employees under federal law. That bill, which took effect immediately, also gave the California Labor Commissioner enforcement authority to cite employers for a lack of paid sick days.
Small businesses that employ 25 workers or fewer are exempt from SB 95’s new protections, but they can offer supplemental paid sick leave to their workers and receive a federal tax credit if they meet eligibility requirements.
Under SB 95, covered employees are entitled to the full 80 hours of supplemental sick leave if they work full-time or were scheduled to work on average at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks before the date they took the leave.
“Paid sick leave is critical not only for the well-being of our dedicated workforce, but for the safety of their families, customers and communities,” Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement. “California’s essential workers who have not had the privilege to stay home during the pandemic are deserving of protections that ultimately save lives. Combined with other initiatives implemented by the state to support workers and their employers, paid sick leave will help ensure California remains on the right track as we continue to make progress to safely reopen the state.”
SB 95 also appropriates $100,000 to the Labor Commissioner for staffing resources to implement and enforce the legislation.
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