The Assembly passed a measure Thursday that would expand unpaid and “minimally paid” sick leave for employees.
“California’s leave protections are woefully inadequate to respond to this [pandemic] and other public health emergencies,” according to Asm. Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, during floor debate.
Kalra and his co-authors argued the additional three days of sick leave would help “immigrants and women” who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Standing in opposition, Republican Heath Flora, who represents part of the San Joaquin Valley, pointed out the bill has no urgency clause and would not take effect until January and said that “this is something [legislators] have tried to do for a while.” Flora also pushed for an exemption for small business owners.
While still in support, fellow Democrats Adrin Nazarian and Al Muratsuchi, both of Los Angeles, agreed the bill should not treat “mom and pop small businesses” like larger corporations.
Asm. Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, countered that most businesses already offer this leave and those restaurants and flower shops don’t want employees infecting others. Gonzalez did acknowledge that amendments can still be made as the Senate takes up the bill.
In April, Kalra had asked Gov. Newsom to expand paid sick leave for farmworkers to two weeks and require hazard pay. Newsom did issue an executive order later to expand paid sick leave in essential industries to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, adding to a federal order for larger businesses.
Also on Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure on workers’ compensation benefits. In contrast to Newsom’s temporary order, this bill would allow more room for employers to dispute a claim that a COVID-19 infection occurred on the job. The committee also passed a measure proposing $50 million in workforce development grants for Central Valley farmworkers, among others.