SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – Amid the omicron surge, COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave is poised to return to California under an agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.
According to a statement from Newsom's office, the agreement between the governor, State Senate pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon would restore the supplemental paid sick leave through September 30, after the program expired late last year.
"Throughout this pandemic, we have come together to address the immediate impacts COVID-19 continues to have on millions of California families, both at home and at work," Newsom said. "By extending sick leave to frontline workers with COVID and providing support for California businesses, we can help protect the health of our workforce, while also ensuring that businesses and our economy are able to thrive."
Under the program, workers would have up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 reasons, when caring for oneself or a family member who is infected or told to quarantine. The leave applies to all employers with 26 or more employees, including those with collective bargaining agreements.
According to The Associated Press, the proposal calls for workers to get one week of paid time off. Workers would get a second week off if they or their family members test positive for the virus. Companies would have to provide the coronavirus test and pay for it. Workers who either refuse to be tested or won't share the results with their employers would not get the extra week off.
Labor groups, along with Bay Area lawmakers, cheered the agreement.
"Make no mistake: today's agreement happened because workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic demanded safety for ourselves, our families and our communities. We spoke up about the impossible choices we faced without enough sick time to recover from COVID-19 without our kids going hungry," said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California "We know we can't wait for employers to keep us safe - we have to advocate for ourselves, and Governor Newsom and legislators listened."
State Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) said, "After much advocacy, I am proud to see paid-sick leave policies extended. Paid sick leave is one of our most important weapons against the virus to slow the spread, to ensure our businesses stay running, and to ensure our workers and their families are safe and protected."
The sick leave extension is part of several early budget actions the Newsom administration announced Tuesday, including the restoration of business tax credits limited during the pandemic recession, additional funding for the small business COVID-19 relief grant program, along with additional COVID-19 testing capacity and boosting of vaccination efforts.
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