Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers announced on Tuesday that they reached an agreement on a framework to again require employers to provide paid COVID-19 supplemental sick leave.
Under the framework, employees would continue to have access to paid sick leave through Sept. 30, 2022, the governor’s office announced. It would be retroactive and cover COVID-19 absences from Jan. 1.
Workers at businesses with 26 or more employees who test positive for the virus, or have to care for a family member with COVID-19 would get up to two weeks of supplemental leave.
The framework will provide up to 40 hours of additional paid sick leave, and another 40 hours if a worker or a family member they take care of tests positive.
Under the proposal, employees would be allowed to use leave to get the COVID-19 vaccine or booster and recover from any side effects.
“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,” state officials said in a statement.
Companies would have to absorb the costs of the paid time off, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The paid leave would likely be finalized through early budget actions, which also include restoring business tax credits.
California previously had a COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave law, but it expired on Sept. 30, 2021.
The law, signed by Newsom in March 2021, required that all employers with 26 or more employees provide 80 hours of paid COVID-19 sick leave.
It was meant to make sure that workers don’t show up at work while potentially infected, or miss out on getting vaccinated because they don’t want to take time off.
Under the now-expired law, employees got paid sick time if they couldn’t work because they had to quarantine or isolate, or because they had appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine or were experiencing symptoms related to the shot. It also applied for employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, or caring for family members with the virus.
Officials are working to bring back paid sick leave as the state sees an omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge that has sent daily infection numbers skyrocketing since the holidays.
Labor groups, like the California Labor Federation, have been calling for the Legislature to reinstate the paid leave.
“The Omicron surge is making workers risk losing their jobs or going to work sick,” tweeted the California Labor Federation, which is made up of more than 1,200 unions representing workers in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, health care and other sectors.
The California Teachers Association applauded the supplemental paid COVID-19 leave agreement, saying it will ensure that employees quarantine, recover and return to their classrooms.
“The fast-spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant has brought unprecedented challenges to our schools and colleges as thousands of students and educators have tested positive or fallen ill with COVID. This has put undue pressure on teachers and school employees faced with having to choose between going without pay or spreading the virus to their school communities.”