Newsom reinstates COVID-19 paid sick leave, provides additional relief to businesses

Newsom reinstates COVID-19 paid sick leave, provides additional relief to businesses

February 14, 2022 0 By Madison Hirneisen

Many California workers will be eligible for up to two weeks of paid time off to recover from COVID-19 under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.

The new law, which reinstates that employers must offer COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, applies to businesses with 26 or more employees. It provides 40 hours of paid time off for workers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, subject to quarantine requirements, caring for a sick family member or taking care of a child whose school or daycare is closed due to the virus. Employees can also get paid time off to attend a vaccine appointment or recover from vaccine-related symptoms, but businesses can limit the paid time to 24 hours. 

Workers can receive an additional 40 hours of paid leave if they show proof that either themselves or a family member has tested positive for COVID-19. The law applies retroactively beginning Jan. 1, 2022, and will run through the end of September.

“Businesses cannot thrive in a world that’s failing,” Newsom said during a news conference in the Bay Area on Wednesday. “That’s why sick leave is foundational – keeping people healthy, keeping patrons safe is so important.” 

Newsom’s stamp of approval comes after labor organizations and advocates called on lawmakers in recent weeks to reinstate paid sick leave provisions amid surging COVID-19 cases throughout January. The California Budget & Policy Center estimates that the state saw a 320% increase in the number of people not working last month because they or a family member were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

“No one should be forced to make the decision of going to work sick or a choice between losing their job or taking care of their health, the health of their child, or a loved one,” Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, said ahead of Wednesday’s bill signing. “As we continue to work through all of the difficult obstacles with COVID, today’s bill signing is one of social and moral consciousness because COVID is truly a life or death issue that not only affects those who are impacted, but clearly the safe economic recovery of our state.”

Newsom signed the bill in conjunction with several other laws contained in a COVID-19 emergency package, including new legislation that will provide more than $6 billion in relief to businesses.

Most of the relief for businesses comes from about $5.5 billion in tax credits and deductions in the new laws. 

“This much needed tax relief is not only essential for the immediate help of employers, but it also creates a pathway and lays the foundation for long term economic recovery for our employers,” Jennifer Barrera, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday.

The relief package also includes $150 million in grant funding for small businesses on the waitlist for grant relief from an existing program that provided more than $4 billion in business grants. Newsom estimated on Wednesday that the additional grant funding would provide additional relief for 13,500 businesses across the state. 

Earlier this week, some lawmakers raised concerns about the cost impact reinstating paid sick leave could have on businesses. Without federal tax credits available to offset the cost, some state legislators said struggling businesses would be forced to shoulder the costs of reinstating paid sick leave. 

When questioned about this concern during a news conference Wednesday, Newsom told reporters that if existing grants do not cover the cost of sick leave for businesses, the state will address it. 

“I would expect as needs present themselves, we will indeed do more,” Newsom said.

This article was originally posted on Newsom reinstates COVID-19 paid sick leave, provides additional relief to businesses