San Diego

California Expands Sick Pay to Millions of Workers

About 6.5 million workers will be entitled to a minimum of three paid days a year

All employees in California who work at least 30 days in a year will be entitled to paid sick time beginning next summer.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act Wednesday morning, expanding the benefit to about 6.5 million workers.

Currently, about 40 percent of the state’s approximately 18 million workers are not entitled to paid sick days.

“Whether you’re a dishwasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family’s health and your job,” Brown said in a written statement. “Make no mistake, California is putting its workers first.”

The law, written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, requires employers to provide one hour of sick time for each 30 hours worked, once an employee has worked for the company for 30 days. Employees will receive a minimum of three sick days a year.

“As a single, working mom, I know first-hand the challenge of having to juggle a sick child who needs to see a doctor and your responsibilities at work,” Gonzalez said in a statement after AB 1522 was signed by the governor. “But no parent should have to experience the heartache of having to choose between making the rent and taking care of their child.”

Some workers fear the costs to employers will end up harming them in the long run.

“Usually stuff trickles down so anything that’s enforced on employers kind of makes it harder for the employees,” said barber Johnny Marte, who works at Bolt Barbers in downtown Los Angeles.

Business groups fought the bill, which is only the second of its kind in the country. Connecticut has a similar bill, but has exclusions for small businesses unlike the California law.

The regulations go into effect July 1, 2015.

This article has been updated to correct the requirements to accrue sick time.

Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

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