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Newsom signs off on two weeks paid COVID-19 leave for most Californians

The COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave law will include retroactive payments through January 1st.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Millions of Californians are breathing a sigh of relief after Governor Newsom signed off on the supplemental paid sick leave bill last Friday. The bill is expected to impact 10.4 million workers across the state, for every company with 25 or more employees.

It's been nearly three months since the Families First Response Act lapsed and families had no supplemental paid sick leave for coronavirus-related reasons. 

"I was seriously concerned about my well being and being able to pay for the bills coming up without pay," said a temp worker for Sacramento County, who didn't want to be identified over fear of retaliation.

She said after she called out for a day earlier this month for medical reasons, her managers told her she needed to self-quarantine at home for 10 days because her symptoms sounded COVID-related. However, as a temp worker, she only gets three sick days, the rest would be unpaid.

"I'm already pretty much paycheck to paycheck, like I don't have room, I'm not blessed with my financial situation, I have student loans to pay, I have apartment rent that just keeps getting higher to pay," she said.

Now that Governor Newsom has signed off on the new supplemental paid sick leave bill, it's people like her that will likely be paid retroactively, upon request, according to employment attorney Jennifer Shaw.

"If you gave someone time off after January 1 for a COVID reason or reason that is covered by the sick leave, at their request you have to go pay them for that time," Shaw said.

Last year's supplemental sick leave was for employers with 500 or more employees. This one includes all companies with 25 or more employees. 

The Center for Workers Rights says because of Prop 22, this does not include ride share drivers, it also means businesses with 25 or fewer employees won't be covered.

"That's a large portion of California's workers and in particularly our service workers, you know small restaurants, most of those places of employment are 25 or fewer," Daniela Urban, the Executive Director for the Center for Workers Rights said.

This bill sets aside 80 hours or two weeks of pay for anyone showing symptoms, has to self-quarantine or is diagnosed with coronavirus.

It also sets aside time to go get your vaccine and it includes time for parents helping their kids with distance learning.

"It's nice that the legislature recognized workers who did sacrifice those weeks of pay in order to do what's right and quarantine or take the time off after a positive diagnosis and allows them to recover the money that they lost as a result," Urban said.

The latest federal relief bill includes tax credits for businesses that pay for COVID sick leave, so that should help businesses owner worried about the cost.

The new law will last through the end of September.

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