Proposed state sick leave law follows city’s lead

Antioch resident Kathleen Martinez cares for three children, her mother and grandmother while working two part-time jobs, one as a pizza maker at a grocery store and a server at Olive Garden.

When a child is sick or her mother or grandmother needs to attend a doctor’s appointment she has to decide whether to ignore their needs and head to work, or stay home and risk losing the paycheck, Martinez said.

“I’m stuck underneath a rock and a hard spot,” Martinez said.

Proposed state legislation — modeled after an existing San Francisco sick leave law — is aimed at eliminating such decisions. Businesses around the state would be required to pay employees for sick days for themselves or to care for a family member, under a bill introduced Friday by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, a former city supervisor.

The law would provide employees working in the state with at least one hour of employer-paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, according to the legislation. The employee could begin using the accrued paid sick days after 90 days on the job.

Ma said she is prepared for stiff opposition, adding that she expects critics to dub the bill a “job killer.”

Betty Jo Toccoli, President of the California Small Business Association, opposed the bill, calling it a bad time for legislation adding to business costs.

The legislation is similar to that passed in November 2006 by voters. Proposition F requires businesses in The City to provide sick leave at the same rate as Ma’s proposed legislation, but in San Francisco, employees do not earn it until they worked for three months, whereas Ma’s legislation would kick in after an employee worked for seven days.

“I think people should not have to worry about losing their job if they’re sick, not getting paid if their kids are ill and have to go to the hospital,” Ma told The Examiner.

dsmith@examiner.com

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