Parents’ Advocates Cheer CA Deal on COVID Paid Sick Leave
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Parents' rights groups are praising a plan to extend paid sick leave for many California workers, which is now on a fast track to pass.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a deal with legislative leaders Tuesday on a bill to require businesses with 26 employees or more to offer two weeks of paid sick leave to recover from COVID or care for a sick family member.
Matthew Kijak, director of programs at the nonprofit Raising the Future, part of Parents Anonymous, which runs the California Parent Youth Helpline, said people should not lose their pay if they or their kids test positive.
"So it's really, really important that we respect the role that parents play who are basically the heroes of this entire pandemic," Kijak asserted. "And honor that by allowing them to stay home to take care of their children who may be suffering from coronavirus."
A similar extension of sick leave during COVID expired last September. The proposal would be retroactive to cover sick days taken since Jan. 1 and would come to an end on Sep. 30. Full-time workers would qualify for 40 hours of leave, plus another 40 if they show a positive COVID test. Part-timers would get the number of hours off they normally work.
Opponents complain the extended sick leave will be borne entirely by businesses, many of which still are struggling after the pandemic shutdowns. To help soften the blow on companies, the deal would restore some tax deductions and expand some tax credits.
Kijak argued workers' health must be the priority.
"Business is important," Kijak acknowledged. "But compared to having employees come to work with coronavirus, and, God forbid, die, it's not a comparison at all. Whatever we have to spend to keep Californians safe needs to be spent."
Without the change, workers in California would only have three state-mandated days of paid sick leave. The bill is expected to be written and sent to a vote in the coming weeks.
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