Home Care Workers Nixed from California’s Paid Sick Leave Bill

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill Wednesday that will provide paid sick leave to millions of workers in the state, however, in-home health care providers and several others won’t be able to benefit from the new law.

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522), which is slated to take effect July 1, 2015, does not define “employees” as those who provide in-home supportive services, employees subject to collective bargaining agreements or airline flight crews and attendants, who are subject to federal labor laws.

Specifically, the bill requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work 30 or more days within a year from commencement of employment. Employees will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), AB 1522 initially included home health care workers, however, concerns about cost led Gov. Brown to amend the measure to exclude them.

In June, the Brown’s administration estimated that the cost to the general fund of providing paid sick leave to about 365,000 in-home supportive service providers would exceed $80 million annually, according to an article from the Sacramento Bee.

Since the amendment, advocates such as the Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees withdrew their support for the bill.

Approximately 6.5 million workers in California—roughly 40% of the state’s workforce—who cannot take a paid day off when they are ill or a family member is sick will be affected by the new law.

“Whether your’e a dishwasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family’s health and your job,” Gov. Brown said in a written statement.

With Gov. Brown’s signature, California becomes the second state in the nation to require paid sick leave.

“Today, we celebrate a major victory for the 6.5 million hardworking Californians who will no longer have to sacrifice their health to avoid missing work and losing income,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D) in a written statement. “Employers benefit, workers benefit and ultimately, the California economy benefits.”

But those on omitted from the new protections are far from content with the bill.

“Rather than show courage, lawmakers have denied dignity to caregivers and the seniors and people with disabilities they serve,” said Doug Moore executive director of the United Domestic Workers of America, in the article.

The UDWA, which represents thousands of in-home care givers in California, argues that the legislation “has effectively created a second class of workers in our state.”

Meanwhile, throngs of home care workers continue to rally nationwide for increased employment protections, most notably for a $15 minimum wage.

Read the Sacramento Bee article.

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva

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