Can Workers Get Paid Sick Leave In California During The Pandemic?

The Los Angeles Times reported on April 16 2020 that Governor Newsom signed an executive order which requires that food sector employers with 500 or more employees must provide “two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for full-time workers who contract COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus and need to isolate themselves.” The amount of sick time the part-time workers in the food sector will be eligible for will be pro-rated to reflect their fewer hours.

Governor Newsom said that the sick pay coverage is aimed at helping the employee and also helping protect other workers if someone has the contagious disease. The orders were approved by the California Grocers Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers union. The order “fills a gap left by a federal law that provides paid leave benefits to workers at smaller businesses.”

The supplemental pay is in addition to any existing employee benefits. The order applies to:

  • Grocery stores
  • Fast-food chains
  • Restaurants
  • Food processing and packaging plants
  • Agricultural workers
  • Delivery services

The agreement was reached between the grocers and the UFCW 770 union.

Workers in grocery stores interact with customers on a regular basis since food is an essential service. While more than 80% of California workers have some paid sick leave, only 14% have at least two weeks paid sick leave, “according to new research by the Shift Project at the University of California.”

Many grocery workers are wearing masks. Grocery stores are required to comply with new guidelines from the California Division of Occupational Safety & Health which requires “employee training, proper hand-washing, social distancing in stores, disinfecting equipment and surfaces, and steps to take if workers may be sick.”

In Los Angeles, grocery stores and pharmacies must have “plexiglass barriers at registers where customers and employees could come in close contact.” Los Angeles also limits the number of people who can enter the store to help ensure safe social distances are maintained.

The paid sick leave order will stay in place as long as the stay-at-home mandate is in effect.

At the California Law Offices of Stephen A. Danz and Associates, we help employees in the food service sector, delivery workers, healthcare workers, and everyone who is helping keep us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. To review your current employee rights, call us at 877-789-9707 or fill out our online contact form to make an appointment. Se habla espanol.