California extends COVID-19 paid sick leave, expands small business relief

Newsom signed bill allocating $6B to small businesses

Millions of California workers are now eligible for two weeks of paid sick leave if they are infected with COVID-19 under a new bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law this week.

The legislation provides up to two weeks of paid sick leave for those recovering from COVID-19, on top of the three days of paid sick leave that employers are already required to give workers. California had previously extended its paid sick leave earlier in the pandemic, but the program expired in September. 


"By extending sick leave to front-line workers with COVID and providing support for California businesses, we can help protect the health of our workforce while also ensuring that businesses and our economy are able to thrive," Newsom said in a statement. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom leaves a news conference after unveiling his proposed $286 billion 2022-2023 state budget during a news conference in Sacramento, California, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli / AP Newsroom)

The reinstated sick leave program is retroactive to Jan. 1 and officially ends on Sept. 30. It applies to businesses with 26 or more employees. The program also provides 40 hours – or eight days – of paid time off for workers who are: experiencing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, subject to quarantine requirements or taking care of a sick relative or child whose school or day care is closed because of the virus. Finally, workers can use up to 24 hours of paid time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine or recover from vaccine-related side effects. 

Newsom signed the measure along with several other bills included in a COVID-19 emergency package, including a law that will give new tax cuts to businesses and new relief to restaurants. The bills will provide roughly $6 billion in relief for small businesses; most of the money – about $5.5 billion – stems from tax credits and deductions for the businesses. Restaurants alone will receive about $500 million in tax cuts. 

A sign is displayed outside a restaurant along the Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas, California, on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.  (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP Newsroom)

"This much-needed tax relief is not only essential for the immediate help of employers, but it also creates a pathway and lays the foundation for long term economic recovery for our employers," said Jennifer Barrera, president of the California Chamber of Commerce.


The relief package also includes $150 million in grants for small businesses on the waitlist for a separate grant program. Newsom estimated that the money will provide relief for about 13,500 businesses in the state. 

Newsom also signed a bill allocating another $1.9 billion to combat COVID-19, including ramping up testing and vaccination efforts.