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Calif. Legislators Pass Paid Sick Leave Bill Excluding Home Care Workers

September 4, 2014

The California legislature passed a bill on August 30 that would give workers access to three days of paid sick leave annually. Home care workers, however, were explicitly excluded from the benefit in a last-minute amendment to the legislation.

The bill (AB-1522), known as the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, would permit workers to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of three sick days per year.

The legislation is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown (D) by the end of the month. It will give nearly 7 million Californians — about 40 percent of the state’s workforce — access to paid sick time when they or a family becomes ill.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement. “This bill guarantees that millions of workers — from Eureka to San Diego — won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) withdrew their support for the bill after it was amended to exclude the nearly 400,000 home care workers employed in the Medicaid-funded In-Home Supportive Services Program, reported the Sacramento Bee.

“After decades of exclusion from our nation’s labor laws, caregivers are just beginning to be treated equally, so it is shocking that California lawmakers would even consider attempting to send the caregiving workforce to the back of the bus again on sick days,” said SEIU President Laphonza Butler in a statement published in the Los Angeles Times.

The revision to exclude home care workers also angered Democratic members of the California Senate.

“I resent the fact that we are picking between two sets of workers,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, (D-Los Angeles) who called the amendment “an attack on a mostly female segment of the workforce,” in the Sacramento Bee.

California would become the second state in the nation to require access to paid sick time; Connecticut was the first state. Several cities, including San Francisco, already passed paid sick leave legislation.

The California bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who said that she was “still happy with the ‘imperfect’ legislation, and that she will introduce another bill next session to include home health workers,” reported California Healthline.

— by Deane Beebe

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