Millions of California workers are staring down the pandemic with no clear access to an economic safety net if they take time off, a situation that is deepening the state’s COVID-19 crisis and galvanizing policymakers to extend sick-leave mandates.
Federal and state measures that required most businesses to offer two weeks of paid leave to recover from the coronavirus, or to quarantine in case of exposure, expired Jan. 1. Golden State employees have since been left with three days of mandated sick leave for any illness, the state minimum, although employers may choose to give more.
With the virus continuing to infect thousands of Californians every week and dangerous variants spreading, the Legislature is set to vote in the coming weeks on whether to reinstate the two-week obligation. That follows weeks of debate in Sacramento that has drawn worker advocates and business groups into unusually broad coalitions, for and against.
The expected vote on a pair of bills now being finalized comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall vote over his handling of the pandemic, especially on school and business closures, and the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout remains slow and uneven.
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