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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – The California legislature gave the ok to extend paid COVID-19 sick leave for California workers but this time, the government is not picking up the tab and it’s concerning businesses across the state.

California lawmakers approved a mandate requiring employers in California to again provide COVID-19 sick pay for workers. 

“Today’s vote on this bill is one of a social and moral consciousness because COVID-19 is truly a life and death issue,” Assm. Wendy Carillo, D-Los Angeles, said.

Workers will be entitled to 40 hours of extra sick pay for reasons related to the virus, including isolation, vaccine and booster appointments, and caring for sick family members.

The paid leave is retroactive back to Jan. 1 of this year and expires at the end of September. 

Small businesses with less than 26 employees are exempt but this round of paid COVID-19 sick time is different because businesses and employers will have to shoulder the costs, even as the state is set to see at least a $45 billion surplus this year.

“It’s an unnecessary burden when we have the capabilities to step in and lead,” State Sen. Andreas Borgeas, R-Fresno, said. 

Lawmakers noted last year federal tax credits helped offset the cost, the legislative analyst’s office told lawmakers Monday the total could be between $500 million to $1.4 billion for businesses across the state.

“If you are a restaurant struggling with workforce issues, if you are a nonprofit, a homeless shelter, for example, you are now going to incur a significant amount of cost with no ability to absorb it,” Assm. Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, said. 

Ahead of Monday’s vote, several business groups sent a letter to the legislature saying they’re opposed in part because of the burdensome cost, added regulations, and inconsistency with CDC recommendations. 

Assemblymember Phil Ting said the legislature would try to work on tax credits and grants for businesses as it prepares the state budget for June.

“It’s something we continue to talk about,” Assm. Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said.

Reporter: “Have you seen any formal plan to do that?”
Assm. Vince Fong: “I haven’t seen any details, This is a conversation that’s beginning and it needs to occur.”

The legislation now waits for Governor Newsom’s signature.