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California Bill Proposes Extending Paid Sick Days Law to Home Care Workers

December 8, 2014

Legislation introduced in the California General Assembly on December 1 would extend access to paid sick leave to home care workers.

The bill (AB 11), introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would permit home care workers to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It would also allow home care agencies to limit workers’ use of sick days to 24 hours — or three days — per year.

The legislation would cover California’s 365,000 home care workers employed under the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

“IHSS employees are among the poorest Californians themselves while also providing critical services to the members of our communities who are the most in need — the elderly, the blind and the disabled,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Paid sick days is going to be an important part in our state’s safety net and I feel strongly that it must be made available to those who take care of our society’s most vulnerable.”

Gonzales was also the lead sponsor of previous legislation to extend three paid sick days to public- and private-sector employees.

The original bill, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522), excluded home care workers. The bill was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in September.

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 IHSS program, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Paid Sick Leave Around the U.S.

Massachusetts and Connecticut mandate paid sick days for workers. Similar initiatives passed recently in Oakland and in two New Jersey cities: Trenton and Montclair. These laws include home care workers in their coverage.

According to the organization Family Values @ Work, 16 cities have now passed laws guaranteeing paid sick leave, including 10 in 2014 alone.

An estimated 80 percent of low-income workers — a category that includes most direct-care workers — do not get paid sick days.

— by Stephen Campbell, PHI Policy Research Assistant

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