Sophie Austin - AP
Oct 4, 2023
Workers in California will soon receive a minimum of five days of paid sick leave annually, instead of three, under a new law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Wednesday.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Workers in California will soon receive a minimum of five days of paid sick leave annually, instead of three, under a new law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Wednesday.
The law, which takes effect in January, also increases the amount of sick leave workers can carry over into the following year. Newsom said it demonstrates that prioritizing the health and well-being of workers “is of the utmost importance for California’s future.”
“Too many folks are still having to choose between skipping a day’s pay and taking care of themselves or their family members when they get sick,” Newsom said in a statement announcing his action.
It was one of more than a dozen bills the Democratic governor signed Wednesday. He has until mid-October to act on all the legislation sent to him this year. He can sign, veto or let bills become law without his signature.
Beyond preventing workers from choosing between taking a day off or getting paid, proponents of the sick day legislation argue it will help curb the spread of diseases and make sure employees can be productive at work. But the California Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses across the state, said it will be burdensome for small businesses.
“Far too many small employers simply cannot absorb this new cost, especially when viewed in context of all of California’s other leaves and paid benefits, and they will have to reduce jobs, cut wages, or raise consumer prices to deal with this mandate,” Jennifer Barrera, the group’s president, said in a statement.
The law was among several major labor initiatives in the Legislature this year, including proposals to raise the wages of health care workers and allow legislative staffers to unionize. Newsom already signed a law to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 an hour. But he vetoed a bill Saturday that would have given unemployment benefits to striking workers, saying the fund the state would use is approaching nearly $20 billion in debt.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, which supported the sick day legislation, said the law will help prevent the spread of deadly diseases.
“Five paid sick days is a step in the right direction and workers will be less likely forced to risk their livelihoods to do the right thing and stay home when they’re sick because of this bill,” Andrea Zinder, president of the group’s Local 324 chapter, said in a statement.