The right to paid sick leave
Posted on March 31, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
For anyone working outside the home or teleworking from home during the pandemic, needing time off work to care for ourselves or a loved one affected by COVID can feel like a horrible Catch-22. When the choice is between loss of income or personal health and safety, there’s no choice at all.
The legislature recently passed, and Governor Newsom signed, a bill that provides up to 80 hours of supplemental emergency paid sick leave for any worker affected by COVID-19 (through September 30, 2021). This legislation is also retroactive to January 1, 2021. In addition, the legislation provides two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for workers to care for family members affected by the virus or children home from school due to the pandemic. All workers are eligible for the sick leave benefits if they or their family members are experiencing the disease symptoms and seek a medical diagnosis; must quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19; or need time off to receive the vaccine or recover from side effects.
However, the new state legislation exempts employers with less than 25 employees. That’s why it’s so critical we know our rights under local Emergency Paid Sick Leave ordinances.
If you work full time or part-time in unincorporated Sonoma County or the City of Santa Rosa and you are employed by a small employer, you are entitled to up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid sick leave for yourself or to care for a loved one. Importantly, your employer cannot make you use another form of leave first, refuse to provide this leave, or retaliate against you for requesting or using this emergency leave.
The federal government has also mandated a payroll tax credit to offset the cost if employers provide COVID-19 related paid sick leave. Small employers may receive the payroll tax credit as well.
Tell your family, friends, coworkers, and loved ones about their rights to emergency paid sick leave! We all deserve the right to care for ourselves and loved ones without it affecting our livelihood.
— Martin Bennett, Executive Board, North Bay Labor Council
Resources for more infomation:
State of California emergency paid sick leave:
City of Santa Rosa paid sick leave:
County of Sonoma paid sick leave: