Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to call for new legislation to revive supplemental paid sick leave policies as part of a $2.7 billion coronavirus response package.
Newsom’s administration previewed the package over the weekend, saying the governor will call for supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave, “given the current situation being driven by the Omicron variant to better protect our frontline workers.”
The governor’s office did not share details on what the new sick leave policies would look like, or the specifics on what Newsom will ask the state Legislature for.
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 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.
It’s unclear if the new sick leave policies would mirror those that expired last year.
The governor is set to propose the paid sick leave as the state sees an omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge and health authorities urge Californians to once again roll up their sleeves to get their boosters.
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.
Steve Smith, communications director with the labor federation, told FOX 5 they’re advocating for 80 hours of paid leave because “not only is this COVID paid sick leave for those who are sick, but also for family members including young children, who under the age of 5 are not vaccinated.”
Newsom’s proposed $2.7 billion COVID-19 emergency response package also includes $1.2 billion to bolster testing capacity and $583 million to get more Californians vaccinated and boosted and $614 million to support frontline workers and health care systems, among other spending.
“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” Newsom said in a statement.
FOX 5’s Kasia Gregorczyk contributed to this story.