Gov. Newsom on Thursday signed three bills related to notifying farmworkers of COVID-19 outbreaks, expanding workers' comp benefits for infections and extending family leave time.
“I am so proud that California is taking an important step to lift up women and families,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who attended the online signing ceremony for Senate Bill 1383.
Assembly Bill 685 requires employers to immediately notify employees and the state of virus outbreaks in workplaces. SB 1159 places the burden on employers for proving that infections took place off the jobsite when an employee is infected and claims workers' compensation. SB 1383 extends family leave by 12 weeks, which critics fear allows for six months of leave by combining state and federal benefits.
“Protecting California's workers, which includes so many immigrant workers, workers of color, women and those vulnerable communities in our state, would be critical to public health, to economic health and ultimately to save reopening,” said Labor Secretary Julie Su. “We have also put in place measures to ensure that we can hit the ground running with enforcement.”
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On the note of farmworker protections, the state is expanding to three more counties its isolation housing program for farmworkers, known as Housing for the Harvest. It has acquired hotel rooms in Kings, Riverside and Tulare Counties for exposed but asymptomatic farmworkers. Three other counties in the Central Valley and on the coast already offer the COVID-19 isolation housing options.
“These hardworking men and women are on the front lines of the pandemic and it is critical that we protect them, their families and local communities,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.