Lawmakers are seeking to extend paid sick leave for workers exposed to COVID-19. The Senate Budget Committee approved Assembly Bill 84 on Monday and the Assembly passed along party lines an identical bill.

The measures would re-establish supplemental paid sick leave for employers with more than 25 employees until October and be retroactive to Jan. 1, when the previous measure expired. Time off for vaccinations and recovery would also be covered. Employers would be compensated for the leave through the recent federal rescue package.

CalChamber policy advocate Ashley Hoffman said the retroactivity presents great uncertainty for employers, who cannot predict the numbers of hours they would have to compensate. Hoffman said the bill unfairly makes businesses “a safety net for the state's COVID-19 response.” The California Farm Bureau sided with CalChamber, as did several Republicans, who said it would hurt businesses just as they begin to recover.

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Supporters included labor unions and other worker advocates, who argued the paid leave would prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Democrats argued the measures would protect essential workers and “real human lives,” at no cost to businesses.

Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen of the Sacramento Valley took issue with the quick turnaround time after amendments were added over the weekend. He said this prevented some groups from preparing public comments.

Top photo: Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley authored the Senate bill.