COVID sick pay: California would bring back paid sick leave through Sept. 2022 under new deal

Governor Gavin Newsom and other California leaders reached an agreement Tuesday on a framework to ensure employees continue to have access to COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave through September 30, 2022. 

"By extending sick leave to frontline workers with COVID and providing support for California businesses, we can help protect the health of our workforce, while also ensuring that businesses and our economy are able to thrive. 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," Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins said in a statement. 

The legislation would apply to all businesses with 26 or more employees, similar to the law created in 2021 that provided 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave, which expired on Sept. 30.

The agreement also includes proposals to restore business tax credits that were limited earlier in the pandemic out of fear that California's economy could collapse.

Additionally, employers would be required to provide up to 40 hours of flexible paid COVID-19 sick leave for full-time workers who are sick or caring for an ill loved one. It would also require employees to provide proof of a positive test to qualify for an additional 40 hours of paid time off. Part-time workers would be eligible for sick leave equal to the number of hours they typically work in a week.

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Under Tuesday's deal, the COVID-19 sick leave would be retroactive and cover COVID-related absences since Jan. 1, 2022.

"When workers speak out and stand up for our rights, everyone benefits. Make no mistake: today’s agreement happened because workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic demanded safety for ourselves, our families and our communities. We spoke up about the impossible choices we faced without enough sick time to recover from COVID-19 without our kids going hungry," Bob Schoonover, President of the Service Employees International Union California, said in a statement. "We know we can’t wait for employers to keep us safe - we have to advocate for ourselves, and Governor Newsom and legislators listened."

While there was no official timeline on this new agreement, lawmakers would likely fast-track it to the governor in the coming weeks.

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