Sick leave bill becomes CA law, mandates paid sick days

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With a flick of the pen, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the sick leave bill into law on Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles.

The law mandates paid sick days to workers in the state starting next July.

The bill was authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). She says 6.5 million workers, or 40 percent of the workforce, will benefit from the law. Full-time, part-time and temporary workers will now get sick days that Gonzalez says they can use "without fear of loss of income, hours or their job."

The bill requires most employers to cover at least three paid sick days a year to employees who work 30 or more days within a year. Workers will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

One of those workers is Manuel, who has worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years.

"We handle food. If we get sick, it's not only us getting sick. It's you getting sick, it's the food getting sick, so this is benefiting all of us," he said.

"We all take advantage of their labor and they ought to have basic decency basic wages, basic benefits," Brown said.

But some worry this will mean more costs, especially in the retail and fast food businesses.

"Now they will not only have to pay sick leave to the absent employee but also to the employee who covers their shift...This one size fits all approach to sick leave is bad policy and gives employers yet another reason to choose somewhere other than California to do business," The Valley Industry and Commerce Association said Wednesday.

Denise Barlage works at Walmart and says this will help thousands of people who have very few benefits with the company.

"We are really excited because even our part time workers, which is 70 percent of the work force at Walmart, are now going to be able not to feel the strain of, like he said, with families. They're able to call out and use that benefit," she said.

Gonzalez hopes paid sick leave will become law in other states as well. She will be traveling soon to Massachusetts, where this issue is on the November ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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