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California Gov. Newsom, lawmakers announce deal for paid sick leave

California Gov. Newsom, lawmakers announce deal for paid sick leave
Local residents wait in line to receive the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., on March 8, 2021. On Tuesday, state politicians announced they reached a deal to ensure workers sick with COVID-19 can get two weeks of paid leave. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he has reached a deal with state lawmakers to ensure workers get up to two weeks paid leave if they fall sick with COVID-19.

The Democratic governor announced the deal in a joint statement with Toni Atkins, the California Senate pro tempore president; and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, stating the framework to extend the paid sick leave includes tax credits and tax relief for businesses.

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It also includes funding to bolster testing and speed-up vaccination campaigns, support for frontline workers and the healthcare system as well as combat misinformation.

"By extending sick leave to frontline workers with COVID and providing support for California businesses, we can help protect the health of our workforce, while also ensuring that businesses and our economy are able to thrive," the three politicians said. "We will continue to work to address additional needs of small businesses through the budget."

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Assembly Democratic leader Eloise Reyes said the deal was reached by both the House and Senate following "extensive negotiations" and that she looks toward to voting it into being.

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The announcement was made months after a similar supplemental paid sick leave put in place last year for employers with 26 or more workers expired at the end of September.

California law mandates employers give at least three days of paid leave, but the supplemental COVID-19 sick leave that went into effect last year extended that to 80 hours

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The new measure was sought by lawmakers as the recent and ongoing surge of the Omicron variant had labor unions, such as United Food and Commercial Workers, calling for the sick leave benefits to be put back in place.

"Make no mistake: today's agreement happened because workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic demanded safety for ourselves, our families and our communities," Bob Schoonover, president of the Service Employees International Union, told KCRA in a statement. "We spoke up about the impossible choices we faced without enough sick time to recover from COVID-19 without our kids going hungry. We know we can't wait for employers to keep us safe -- we have to advocate for ourselves, and Gov. Newsom and legislators listened."

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