California Passes Bill Granting Workers the Right to Three Sick Days Per Year

Whether you spent this weekend working or enjoying your Labor Day holiday, you might have missed big news from California: it became the second state to pass a bill guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers. Governor Jerry Brown still needs to sign the bill into law, but it is (we hope) on its way.

I first saw the big news on Jezebel, and here’s what you need to know:

Bill AB 1522 entitles employees to three days of paid sick leave, if they work for an employer for 30 days or more. As the bill states:

This bill would enact the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 to provide that an employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment is entitled to paid sick days for prescribed purposes, to be accrued at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked. An employee would be entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. The bill would authorize an employer to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days in each year of employment. The bill would prohibit an employer from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who requests paid sick days.

As ThinkProgress notes, there’s a caveat:

It does, however, have a big carve out, as last minute negotiations between the bill’s author and Gov. Brown left out those who care for the elderly and disabled in their homes. That change led labor unions, which had made the bill a priority for the year, to pull their support, but it secured the governor’s backing.

Three paid sick days, with an understanding that an employer cannot retaliate against you for requesting them, is a huge step forward for labor rights. It also, simultaneously, feels ridiculous. Just three days? And California is only the second state, after Connecticut, to provide this right? Connecticut at least grants its workers 40 hours of paid sick leave per year; why do California workers only get three days — and why do so many other American workers get nothing?

But it is still a huge step forward.

Happy post-Labor Day weekend!

Photo: Chauncey Davis

Comments