Sacramento, California—On January 1, 2021, millions of California workers will lose access to emergency paid sick days during a surge in COVID-19 cases. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other federal and state laws that extended paid time off in 2020 are set to expire at midnight on December 31, leaving many working Californians without access to time off if they get sick or need to quarantine. This week, President Trump signed a $900 billion pandemic relief bill which includes funding in the form of tax breaks for some employers who provide paid sick days and paid leave, but this notably excludes the right for workers to actually take the paid time off when they need it.
According to advocates, lack of job protected paid leave forces workers to choose between staying home for the safety of themselves, their co-workers, and the public and the risk of being fired. In addition, by not requiring employers to provide this paid time off, California risks losing out on millions of dollars in federal funding for paid sick leave and family and medical leave benefits. These funds could be going directly into workers’ pockets and back into the state’s economy. The expiration of these benefits come at a time when COVID-19 is surging in the country and California is already at 0% capacity for ICU beds in many hospitals. Worker advocates from the California Work & Family Coalition, Legal Aid at Work, and California Employment Lawyers Association join partners in public health and others to call on the California state legislature to pass emergency paid sick days to ensure workers have access to job-protected leave when they need to heal or quarantine. This is for the safety of workers, their families, and our communities across California.
California Work & Family Coalition is a statewide alliance of organizations and people united in working towards a world where all people have the time and resources to care for themselves and each other.
California Employment Lawyers Association is a statewide organization of over 1,300 California attorneys devoted to representing California workers.
Legal Aid at Work (LAAW) is a nonprofit legal services organization that has been assisting low income workers for over 100 years through free clinics and helplines, sharing information, litigation, and policy change.