Newsom signs bill expanding sick leave to five days, banning manual ballot counting

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pen was busy on Wednesday, expanding worker leave and reigning in California counties wishing to manually count electoral ballots.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law that increases paid sick leave for workers in the state. Under the new law, which takes effect in January, workers will receive a minimum of five days of paid sick leave annually, instead of three.

The law also allows workers to carry over any unused sick leave into the following year.


Driving the news: In signing the bill, Newsom highlighted the importance of prioritizing the health and well-being of workers, stating that too many people are forced to choose between taking a day off and getting paid or taking care of themselves or their family members when they are sick.

  • Proponents of the law argue that it will not only prevent workers from having to make such choices but also help curb the spread of diseases and ensure productivity in the workplace.

The other side: The California Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns, stating that the new law will be burdensome for small businesses, leading to job reduction, wage cuts, or increased consumer prices.

  • The law is part of a series of labor initiatives in the state, including wage increases for healthcare workers and allowing legislative staffers to unionize.

Elsewhere on Newsom’s desk: The Governor also signed a law to ban local governments from manually counting ballots in most cases. This move is a direct response to Shasta County’s plan to stop using machines to count votes.

  • The law requires local governments to use state-certified voting machines and only allows hand counts in exceptional cases where the number of eligible voters is below a certain threshold.
  • The law has caused division in Shasta County, with some supporting it as a necessary protection for voters, while others argue that the machines cannot be guaranteed to be free from manipulation.
  • The county had already purchased new voting equipment to comply with federal laws for voters with disabilities.
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