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Senator Lena Gonzalez and California Labor Federation Announce Bill to Guarantee 7 Paid Sick Days for All Workers




California Labor Federation: Shubhangi Domokos, shubhangi@calaborfed.org

Senator Lena Gonzalez: Leoda Valenzuela, Leoda.Valenzuela@sen.ca.gov

Senator Lena Gonzalez and California Labor Federation Announce Bill to Guarantee 7 Paid Sick Days for All Workers

COVID-19 Pandemic Exposed a Dire Need for Workers’ to Access Sick Leave without Losing their Jobs or Forgoing Pay

SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, February 15, 2023) – Today, the California Labor Federation joined Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) in announcing Senate Bill 616, which would expand California’s landmark paid sick leave law to ensure all working Californians in the public and private sector can use seven days of paid sick leave each year.

In 2014, California became the first state in the nation to pass an earned sick leave law for all private sector workers. As a result, over 6.5 million working Californians gained access to sick leave and have been able to earn a minimum of three days of sick leave per year. However, over the last decade, California has fallen drastically behind every other city and state that has since enacted more generous paid sick leave for workers including Washington, Arizona, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut, and cities across California including Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, West Hollywood and Emeryville.

“For too many working Californians, taking unpaid time off to recover from illness or take care of a sick child, means you can’t afford groceries that week or pay the rent, or it could put your very job at risk. We knew when we passed the first paid sick days law that three days wouldn’t be enough,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, leader of the California Labor Federation, and author of AB 1522 (2014), California’s landmark sick leave law. “The pandemic exposed how broken our safety-net is for workers and demonstrated the dire need for workers’ to have more paid sick days. SB 616 keeps workers safe and protects their jobs, it helps parents balance their family and work needs, it minimizes the transmission of illness in the workplace, and helps us maintain a strong, healthy economy. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the lifesaving impacts of paid sick leave policies. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, California and federal government took emergency measures to ensure that most workers for mid-to-large sized employers had temporary access to 10 days of supplemental paid sick leave. Research has shown emergency paid leave prevented approximately 400 positive COVID-19 cases per day. During the ongoing public health crisis, emergency paid sick leave was one of the most effective tools in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and helped keep transmission rates down as the state moved towards a safe reopening.

Temporary expansions of paid sick leave policies are not enough to provide a reliable safety-net for workers and adequately protect public health year-round. Workers without sufficient sick leave are either expected to work while sick, risking the health and safety of co-workers and customers, or stay home and forgo wages, jeopardizing that worker’s own ability to survive or keep their job. This especially disadvantages those in service sector jobs traditionally dominated by women and Latino workers, including childcare providers, and janitorial, retail, food service and hospitality workers.

SB 616 offers a sustainable policy solution to meaningfully improve the health and quality of life for millions of working Californians.

To arrange for an interview with Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, contact Shubhangi Domokos at (916) 934-6963.

To arrange for an interview with Senator Lena Gonzalez, contact Leoda Valenzuela at (562) 338-3653.

The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,200 affiliated unions in California with over 2.1 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.


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