Calif. paid sick leave bill advances

SACRAMENTO Calif. Legislation that would make California the first state to mandate paid sick leave from employers passed its first hurdle Wednesday with approval by the state Assembly's Labor and Employment Committee.

Proposed by Rep. Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, AB 2716 would allow California workers to accrue sick leave time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, and would carry over from year to year. The paid time off would be available for illnesses, as well as for recovery from domestic violence or sexual assault.

Under the bill, businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be able to limit paid sick leave time to 40 hours, or five days, per year. Large companies would have to supply at least 72 hours, or nine days.

Supporters of the bill estimate that 6 million workers in California do not have paid sick leave, an estimated 40 percent of the workforce. In testimony before the committee, a public health official from San Francisco reportedly noted that only 15 percent of California’s foodservice workers have paid sick days, the lowest percentage among major industries.

At least 14 states have proposed similar legislation in the past two years. San Francisco adopted a paid sick leave mandate in 2006.

The bill was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.