New Year, New California Laws: Mandatory Sick Leave

Paid sick leave seems like a very logical concept. If you are physically or mentally not able to come into work, you should be able to stay at home and be compensated for your time.

However, the State of California felt differently until this year. Beginning July 1, 2015, employees in California will be granted three days of paid sick leave without any threat to their employment status from their employers. One hour of paid sick leave is received for every 30 hours worked.

Prior to this law, employers were not required to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that 79 percent of workers in low-paying industries do not have paid sick leave.

Given the additional stress these workers must face once they leave their jobs, the implications of not having paid sick days are huge. The benefits of paid sick leave are far beyond the costs. Paid sick leave values the health of the employee and their presence. Not everyone has the luxury of taking a day off without pay, which often leads to them coming into work out of sheer necessity.

It is ridiculous that only in 2015  are we recognizing the effects of health on worker productivity and basic well-being. I understand that sick leave can be and is abused. But those who truly need a sick day should not be penalized by the actions of the few who choose to abuse the system.

Our lives don’t exist from eight to five every day. They extend to hours outside of the workplace, with different problems and stresses that take a mental and physical toll.

This law may not affect everyone’s paid sick leave — some people already have more than three days of paid sick leave. But for the working class in California this law is a huge step in the right direction.

Providing three days of paid sick leave, compared to the 10 days workers in Australia receive, is the least we can do for the working people who are the backbone of our society. While California is only the second state to implement paid sick leave, the precedent is a crucial one.

 

Aliza Asad is a third-year public health policy and international studies double major. She can be reached at aasad@uci.edu.