Gov. Brown Expected to Sign Bill Mandating Paid Sick Leave for California Employees

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By Laura Mahoney

Sept. 2 — California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is likely to sign a bill passed in the final moments of the 2014 legislative session Aug. 30 giving at least three paid sick days to 6.5 million private and public sector employees in California.

A.B. 1522 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) won a final vote of 50-20 on the Assembly floor at about 1:30 a.m. with a last-minute boost from Brown, who rarely involves himself in bills as they move through the Legislature. He voiced his support after securing amendments that exclude in-home supportive services workers who care for elderly or disabled people.

The exclusion of IHSS workers disappointed some lawmakers and advocacy groups, but most Democrats still voted in favor of the bill. Several lawmakers added their votes after it passed, giving it a final tally of 52-25.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a news release sent minutes after the final vote in the Assembly “This bill guarantees that millions of workers—from Eureka to San Diego—won't lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

Lawmakers adjourned for the year shortly after 3 a.m. Aug. 30. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto A.B. 1522 and the hundreds of other bills sent to his desk in the final week of the 2014 legislative session.

No Longer a ‘Job Killer.’

Business groups opposed the paid sick days bill, but the California Chamber of Commerce said Aug. 29 it dropped the “job killer” label it gives each year to the bills it deems the most harmful based on the late amendments.

The bill's opponents argued it would harm small businesses and is unnecessary in light of California's many leave protections. Those protections include paid family leave for childbirth or adoption and unpaid family medical leave and disability leave for pregnancy, domestic violence, harassment and bone marrow donation.

“Adding to this list with such a broad expansion as A.B. 1522 proposes will be overwhelming,” the chamber and about 100 other business groups said in an Aug. 29 letter to lawmakers.

In an emotional early-morning speech on the Assembly floor, Gonzalez said the recent amendments to exclude IHSS workers kept her up at night, but she decided to accept them because the bill still makes huge strides for workers in California.

“This bill expands worker rights in a way that is unprecedented in this state and in this country,” she said. Gonzalez also vowed to introduce legislation in 2015 seeking paid leave for the workers exempted from A.B. 1522.

Under the current bill, all employees in the state who aren't covered by a collective bargaining agreement would be able to accrue three days of paid sick leave once they've been employed for 90 days, to use to care for themselves or a family member such as a child, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild or sibling.

Employers would be required to display posters, to be created by the Labor Commissioner, informing employees of their right to paid sick days and that retaliation against workers who request or use paid sick days is prohibited.

Employers could face fines of up to $4,000 a day for withholding paid sick days or otherwise violating the bill's requirements.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Mahoney in Sacramento, Calif., at lmahoney@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

More information about the bills is available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billSearchClient.xhtml