Millions of California workers who have had to choose between going to work sick or staying home without pay will start earning at least three days of paid annual sick leave next year under a new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in Los Angeles Wednesday.
"These are real people, we all take advantage of their labor and they ought to have basic decency, basic wages, basic benefits, so this three-day sick leave is definitely a step forward," Brown said.
The law will go into effect next July. It requires employers to provide sick days to temporary and part-time employees as well.
For Albina Ardon, 27, who has worked at a South Los Angeles McDonald's for ten years, the new law can not come soon enough. She said she has rarely called in sick, even when her kids are under the weather.
"A week ago I was sick, coughing and with a...fever and runny nose," she said. "Even though I was really sick I had to go to work. If I don’t go to work I don’t have the money and I can’t pay rent."
Supporters say the law will affect six-and-a-half million workers, many in food and retail jobs.
Brown said "it's the least we can do" for workers, many who earn the minimum wage.
The legislation's author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), expressed satisfaction that workers who take advantage of the law will be able to take time off when they or a child is ill "without fear of loss of income, hours or their job."
The law will not cover those who work under collective bargaining agreements and in-home health workers. Gonzalez said she plans to propose similar legislation for in-home workers during the next legislative session.