San Jose, CA May Mandate Paid Sick Leave for Employees of Essential Service Businesses

San Jose’s City Council will meet tonight to review an ordinance that requires “essential service” businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave. Businesses with personal leave policies that provide employees with a maximum of at least 160 hours are exempt. San Jose’s proposal is significantly higher than the requirements under the California Sick Leave Law.

Under the ordinance, essential service businesses must immediately provide employees with a minimum of 40 hours of sick leave, and an additional hour of sick leave for every additional two hours worked until a cap of 80 hours or sick leave is reached, or the city vacates the emergency order. Employees can use the paid sick leave immediately regardless of how long they have worked at the business.

Employees who contract COVID–19, are quarantined, or who must act as a caretaker are eligible. Full-time employees will receive 80 hours. Other employees will receive the average number of hours the employee works over a two-week period.

Employers must pay a daily rate that is based on the reason for the time off. Employees that are diagnosed with COVID or must self-quarantine will receive $511 per day or $5,110 in aggregate, while caretakers will receive $200 per day or $2,000 in aggregate.

San Jose’s legislation is intended to ensure that California employees receive the same level of benefits that are provided under new Federal laws including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (The Act), which is effective on April 1, 2020. The new law allows the Department of Labor to adopt regulations that will provide a hardship exemption for employers with less than 50 employees.

San Jose received support for the ordinance from many trade groups and residents. California State Senator Jim Beall, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, and Assembly Member Ash Kalra also support the ordinance.

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