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Paid Sick Leave for Home Health Workers Returns to Legislature

The California Legislature is once again considering a proposal to provide paid sick leave for home health care workers.

Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) is revisiting the idea after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) asked her to remove home health care workers from a bill calling for paid sick leave for other workers in last year’s session. Brown signed AB 1522 after home health workers were omitted.

Gonzalez’ new bill, AB 11 introduced last month, would revise the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 to include the state’s estimated 400,000 home health care workers, giving them a minimum of three days of paid sick leave annually if they work 30 or more calendar days in a year.

Gonzalez said the state last year was in negotiations with major home health care unions and administration officials were concerned about the fiscal implications of paid sick leave.

“We have to look at the workers themselves. We can’t create a subclass of workers,” Gonzalez said.

Bills calling for paid sick leave for home health care workers died in appropriations committees in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Counting last year’s bill before revisions, this makes it the fifth time the issue has been debated in the state Legislature.

Gonzalez said she does not expect Brown to sign the bill this year either, since negotiations with unions representing home health care workers are on-going and there remains a concern of the financial burden it may pose for the state.

“When I took it out, I made a commitment to health care workers and my colleagues to reintroduce it,” Gonzalez said. “We will go through the process, and it’s up to the health care workers to bargain for it.”

Committee hearings on the bill will be scheduled during the next few weeks.

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Capitol Desk