Key workers, unions and lawmakers are calling on governor to reduce emergency paid sick leave for workers who contract COVID-19…
Not having that protection forces several sick employees to use vacation time or no pay at all.
“At some point, you run out of days to use,” says Jose Segura, president of the Santa Maria Elementary Education Association.
Essential workers get burned out from their demanding job.
“It seems like across the country we’re seeing nurses need to use their vacation time and often it’s up, depending on whether they’ve had COVID another time,” explains Sandy Reding, president of the California Nurses Association and registered nurse. in the Bakersfield Area.
Those in the medical field also dealing with the latest California directive allowing asymptomatic health professionals to return without isolation or testing as long as they wear an N95 face mask.
“It could be harmful to the health of our patients and we also want to make sure we protect our colleagues and preserve the existing workforce,” said Reding.
Essential workers said additional paid leave in 2021 gave them a chance to recover.
“The fact that it was retroactive to the beginning of January was super helpful for people who had already burned their own sick days,” Segura added.
The protection was in effect from January 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021.
Employers who had 26 or more employees were required to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave for COVID-19-related reasons, but this was dropped.
“We depend on our paycheck from month to month to take out our mortgage, pay our bills, feed our kids, send them to school, so if you have a pay cut or a loss, it’s a huge negative. impact. to your family,” said Segura.
It also raised concerns in business.
“A major problem that our members have seen is abuse of leave,” explains Ashley Hoffman, a policy attorney with the California Chamber of Commerce. “Last year for one of the qualifying reasons, including getting a vaccine or recovering from side effects, you could take up to 80 hours off and there was no opportunity for the employer to ask for documentation.”
On Twitter, the hashtag #PAIDSICKDAYSNOW is gaining momentum thanks to unions and lawmakers such as California Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg and Assembly Members Jim Wood and Luz Rivas.
“We don’t want to interact with people who actively know they are sick or refuse to participate in the testing process because they don’t want to give their employer a reason to exclude them from the workforce,” Segura said.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday that paid sick leave is under discussion.
“It is an early action, a top priority for both our office and legislative leaders,” said Governor Newsom.
As the pressure mounts, the California Chamber of Commerce is arguing on behalf of employers.
“Many employers offer generous sick leave, so we want to make sure that if they already offer quite a bit of sick leave that can be used for these purposes, they can get some credit for it,” Hoffman added.
While unions are behind this emergency measure.
“We will always be there for you, but we need you there for us too, and we hope the community will reach out to the governor’s office,” Reding concluded.
Supporters of both parties said they plan to continue sending letters to the governor and campaigning on social media to push for this legislation.
There’s no clear timeline on when or if this legislation will be passed, but proponents said there’s a lot of pressure on the governor to get this paid leave approved.