California to reinstate paid COVID-19 sick leave

A new deal will extend the benefit to Sept. 30, 2022

California to reinstate paid COVID-19 sick leave

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have announced a new agreement that requires California employers to provide workers with paid COVID-19 sick leave.

The legislation would provide two weeks of leave to full-time workers – who are sick with the coronavirus – at businesses with at least 26 employees, the Los Angeles Times reported. The legislation would also cover those caring for loved ones with COVID-19 and would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022.

This benefit, which comes after a similar law expired in September, runs through Sept. 30, 2022. The deal also proposes restoring suspended tax credits to help businesses bear the costs of the extra paid leave. The agreement, which also boosts early budget funding for COVID-19 response to $1.8 billion, is intended to help combat the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

“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,” Newsom said.

Read more: Judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal employees

Labor unions had clamored for the new proposal, KTLA reported. “We spoke up about the impossible choices we faced without enough sick time to recover from COVID-19 without our kids going hungry,” SEIU California President Bob Schoonover said in a statement. “We know we can’t wait for employers to keep us safe – we have to advocate for ourselves, and Governor Newsom and legislators listened.”

The deal is the state government’s latest effort in reducing COVID-19 cases, which ticked up at the beginning of the year. Last month, Newsom announced that the state will require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccination booster shots. As a result, “The Golden State” became the second state to mandate booster shots for health care workers, following New Mexico’s lead. Newsom had already reinstated an indoor mask mandate.

Since then, San Jose has become the first city in California to mandate that its employees receive a COVID-19 booster shot. In addition, city leaders have adopted a new order requiring that visitors of large, indoor events at public facilities show proof of a booster shot — or submit a negative COVID-19 test — before they enter, NBC Bay Area reported. The order begins Feb. 4, according to Dolan Becker, director of the city’s office of civic innovation.

California had the first confirmed case of Omicron in the United States at the beginning of December.

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