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New agreement with Newsom, lawmakers would allow COVID sick leave through Sept.

Details to be finalized, voted on in coming days
Gavin Newsom
Posted at 4:28 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 19:29:53-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Employers with 26 or more employees would need to provide their workers with up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid leave under a new agreement reached by Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers Tuesday.

“It’s something that we’ve been waiting on quite frankly,” said Crystal Irving, president of SEIU Local 221, a union representing about 14,000 workers across different sectors in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

“It’s so important that COVID sick leave is passed to make sure that our workers don’t have to choose between working or paying rent, working or taking care of their families, working or food on the table,” said Irving.

Under the proposal, employers would need to provide 40 hours of supplemental paid sick leave. If the first 40 hours are exhausted, employers would need to provide an additional 40 hours if the worker or a worker’s family member they care for tests positive for COVID-19. The worker would need to show a positive test result; if they don’t, they will not receive the additional sick leave.

If approved and signed into law, the sick pay would be effective until Sept. 30, 2022. The COVID-19 sick pay will be retroactively applied to Jan. 1, 2022. Details are expected to be finalized in the coming days, and a vote on the bill is expected to happen shortly after that.

“This is truly a result of labor unions across the state of California really banding together and saying this is what we need in order to continue to serve the communities that we get to serve every day,” said Irving. “This state has continued to run because of essential employees like the ones that we represent.”

As for employers that will need to provide the time off, a joint statement by Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in part:

“We will continue to work to address additional needs of small businesses through the budget – they are the backbone of our communities and continue to be impacted by COVID-19.”

A press release sent from the Governor’s office said tax credits to businesses are also part of the plan.

The release stated, “Early budget actions will also include restoring business tax credits, including research and development credits and net operating losses, that were limited during the COVID-19 Recession; tax relief for recipients of federal relief grants for restaurants and shuttered venues; and additional funding for the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. The framework includes significant funding to bolster testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers, strengthen the health care system, and battle misinformation.”

Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Nathan Fletcher, showed support for the agreement on Tuesday.

“Hard-working San Diegans should not have to make the difficult choice between protecting their health and providing their family with food or a roof over their head. I advocated for the extension of paid sick leave for employees who contract COVID-19 and fully support the agreement. I want to thank Governor Newsom, Senate President pro-Tempore Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Rendon for their leadership and look forward to this agreement becoming law."