Bill that provides paid sick leave for COVID-related reasons heads to Newsom’s desk

The California Legislature on Thursday voted to expand paid sick leave for about 10.4 million workers, sending a bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom that mandates up to two weeks of paid time off for things like having coronavirus symptoms, scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine or caring for a child who is doing school at home.

The bill, if it is signed into law, applies to companies with at least 25 employees. The rules would expire on Sept. 30, but are retroactive to Jan. 1. Some companies would have to pay their workers for time off they have already taken.

But many companies can get that money back from the federal government. The federal government offers companies a payroll tax credit of up to $511 per day for each employee that takes the paid sick leave. The tax credit is enough to cover workers who make $60 an hour or less, according to Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner, the bill’s primary author.

But the credit is limited in some cases. It’s only $200 per day if the employee is taking time off to care for a family member. And the credit is only available to companies with fewer than 500 employees.

“The absolutely best way to contain the spread (of the virus), beyond the fact of wearing masks as we are and keeping our distance, is to ensure people who have COVID or who are asymptomatic with COVID are not going to work,” Skinner said.

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Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.