California Governor Jerry Brown Lauds Passage Of ‘Historic’ Sick Leave Bill

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California Gov. Jerry Brown, July 28, 2014
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference at the Memoria y Tolerancia museum in Mexico City in this file photograph taken July 28.

(Reuters) -- A bill to grant California workers mandatory sick leave that passed the state Legislature Saturday appeared poised to become law after Gov. Jerry Brown lauded it as a historic achievement. The measure would require employers to provide at least three days of annual paid sick leave to workers, who would accrue the time off at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked.

If Brown signs the bill into law, California would join Connecticut as the only states mandating paid sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement. “This bill guarantees that millions of workers - from Eureka to San Diego -- won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

The bill passed the state Senate with a 22-8 vote Friday and the Assembly Saturday with a 52-25 vote.

Business groups have mostly opposed efforts to impose mandatory paid sick leave, saying they could force businesses to pare back workforces and raise prices.

In contrast, some Democratic lawmakers said the California measure did not go far enough, because it does not cover home health-care workers, most of whom are women. “I resent the fact that we are picking between two sets of workers,” state Sen. Holly Mitchell told the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

According to the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research, about 44 percent of California workers may not have access to paid sick days.

A small but growing number of local governments have passed paid sick-leave mandates, with San Francisco in 2006 becoming the first U.S. city to do so.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Leslie Adler)

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