Legislation to Provide All California Workers with Paid Sick Days Clears Legislative Committee


The Assembly Judiciary Committee passed Assembly Bill 400 by a 6-2 vote. AB 400, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act is authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties). The legislation, modeled after a 2006 San Francisco ordinance, will allow workers to earn and use paid sick days for personal illness, to care for a sick family member, or to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault. The committee vote coincides with a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), which showed both businesses and workers were generally in support of San Francisco’s ordinance, the first such policy in the nation.

“We are not robots. We all get sick, our family members and loved ones get sick,” said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. “Study after study confirms that paid sick days are good for both business and workers. The evidence is growing that paid sick days is a commonsense policy that’s good for all Californians. ”

AB 400 is modeled after the San Francisco law, to allow a worker to earn and use paid sick time for up to 40 hours or 5 days in each calendar year for workers of small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, and 72 hours or 9 days per calendar year for all other workers. A worker would be able to begin using earned time after 90 calendar days of employment.

A report by Human Impact Partners (HIP) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPF) found that that food handling by sick workers contributes to a substantial share of food-borne disease outbreaks in California. Between 2003 and 2007, California had 67 reported food-borne disease outbreaks occurring in restaurants, schools, day care centers and hospitals that were traced back to an ill food service worker.

The IWPR report analyzed a survey of over 700 employers and 1,200 employees and found that two-thirds of employers support the law. Only one in seven employers reported adverse effects on profitability. More than half of covered employees report some benefit due to the law, and one out of four workers reported that they were better able to care for their own and their families’ health. Two-thirds of employers are supportive of the paid sick days policy.

The IWPR report was followed by an alarming report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles (ROC-LA) that showed nearly 90% of Los Angeles restaurant workers do not get paid sick days and nearly 60% have gone to work sick.

Nearly six million Californians – more than two in five workers in the state – do not get any paid sick days. Going to work sick creates unhealthy workplaces and puts the health of our families and communities at risk. According to a 2008 Field Research Corporation poll, 73 percent of California voters support a law guaranteeing workers a minimum number of paid sick days. In recent years, a movement for paid sick days has grown at the local, state and federal level across the country.

Posted by Lauren 05/05/11

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