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California’s Extra Sick Leave Pay for COVID-19 Expiring

California’s special COVID-19 sick-leave policy is set to expire Sept. 30, a change that is raising fears of new disruptions for communities of color and others disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California and partners at the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative have implored the state to extend the COVID sick leave policy.

California’s special COVID-19 sick-leave policy, which has sustained many low-income workers during the pandemic, is set to expire Sept. 30, a change that is raising fears of new disruptions for communities of color and others disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

Oakland resident Victor Moreno, 56, knows the value of extended sick pay. He got COVID-19 in January and received nearly two weeks of paid time off from his job at a Berkeley company making alternative meat products. That employer offered generous benefits and encouraged his time off, he said. But in his current job, at a San Francisco restaurant, it would be a different story if he were to get sick without the mandated extended sick leave.

“I don’t know how I would have survived” without the time off, said Moreno, who described COVID-19 as a “terrible experience.” “To have no income coming in when you’re that sick, I don’t know how people go through it.”

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, which is a coalition of 11 greater Bay Area public health departments and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, consisting of 10 health departments, implored the state to extend the state’s COVID sick leave policy as the delta variant picked up speed in late August.

“When workers do not have adequate paid leave, fear of job loss and resulting economic instability leads many to report to work even when they are ill, increasing the spread of infectious disease,” the coalition wrote.

Demand for sick leave has risen during the pandemic, particularly for some workers who risk more exposure to the virus, according to employment lawyers. Without paid leave, low-income workers, many of whom work in the retail, hospitality and restaurant industries, face an impossible choice in having to decide between their health and their work, they say.

Click below to read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Originally published by San Francisco Chronicle


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