Sac Bee: Gavin Newsom just approved more sick days for California workers. What does it mean for you?

October 05, 2023


Some California workers are in line to earn more sick days starting in January, as Gov. Gavin Newsom handed labor advocates another victory. 
The governor on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 616 from state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach. The new law requires employers to allow their workers to accrue five days of sick leave each year, up from the current statewide minimum of three days. Workers can start accruing those extra days beginning Jan. 1, 2024. 
Gonzalez said she authored the bill out of concern that workers would not have enough sick days if they or a child fell ill with COVID-19. 
“This reinforces our state’s values and commitment to protecting the health and well-being of our workers,” Gonzalez said in a statement Tuesday.
Gonzalez previously told The Sacramento Bee, “Families no longer have the temporary protections afforded by COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, which ended last year.”
Proponents of the law, which was passed by California lawmakers last month, cite research from the nonprofit think tank Economic Policy Institute that found two days of unpaid sick time is equivalent to the cost of a month’s worth of gas. Lost wages from three days of unpaid leave amounts to a family’s entire monthly grocery budget, that same study found. Additional unpaid days could mean the difference between putting food on the table and kids going hungry.
“No one wants workers to come to work sick, but that’s exactly what happens when workers face the prospect of losing a large part of their pay,” said David Huerta, President of SEIU California and of SEIU United Service Workers West, in a statement. The unions were co-sponsors of the bill. “We applaud Governor Newsom for signing this bill and expanding sick leave for all.”
The California Conference of Machinists, the California Labor Federation and the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council also co-sponsored SB 616.
Lobbyists from the business community still remain opposed to the additional leave time. They say small businesses with thin margins will be pushed to the financial brink.
“Our concern is that far too many small employers simply cannot absorb this new cost, especially when viewed in context of all of California’s other leaves and paid benefits, and they will have to reduce jobs, cut wages, or raise consumer prices to deal with this mandate,” said Jennifer Barrera, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, in a statement Tuesday. “Small businesses are crucial to our local communities and the overall success of our economy.”
In California, seven cities already mandate that employers provide nine to 10 days of sick time, according to researchers at the California Budget and Policy Center. They are: San Diego, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville.
Read this article in the Sacramento Bee, here