The number of Californians contracting coronavirus has plummeted sharply since the beginning of 2021. However, the pandemic still is far from over. That’s part of the reason California lawmakers now are debating requiring businesses to offer more paid sick leave amid the ongoing health crisis.
Expanding mandated paid sick leave
Many federal and state guidelines required giving workers two weeks of paid leave if they contracted COVID-19 in 2020. However, those rules now have expired. As a result, millions of Californians only have three days of paid sick leave this year, far less than what the CDC recommends for those who contract coronavirus. Soon lawmakers will decide whether to reinstate the mandated two weeks of paid sick leave for 2021. Currently, the CDC recommends that those with COVID-19 isolate themselves for at least 10 days. Sometimes, those with more severe cases of the virus must quarantine 20 days.
The debate comes amid Gov. Gavin Newsom facing a recall vote on how he’s handled the pandemic and the state’s slow vaccine rollout. Plus, many California businesses continue to struggle because of the economic downturn because of the pandemic. Yet, in January, more than 100 workers’ rights organizations and unions urged California to expand required sick time back to two weeks for this year.
Tax credits for expanded sick leave?
Some businesses and workers’ rights advocates hope when President Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill is finalized it includes tax credits for business that do offer two weeks of sick time for employees who contract coronavirus. If the tax credits are part of the final bill, businesses will need to closely track employee sick time, so they have records how many days COVID-19-positive employees took in paid sick leave.
One of the important aspects of ending the coronavirus pandemic is stopping the spread of the virus. With increasing numbers of Californians receiving vaccinations, that will help. However, extending paid sick leave also can help curb workplace outbreaks.