July 17, 2024

California Will Require Paid Sick Leave for Restaurant Workers

The state of California may require paid sick leave for workers, which directly ties into food safety in restaurants. Legislation has been passed and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. AB 1522, the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 passed the state Senate with a 22-8 vote and the Assembly with a 52-25 vote.

Restaurant ChefRestaurant workers who work while sick have caused many foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. A study by the Food Chain Workers Alliance in 2012 found that more than half of all workers in the food industry work while they are sick because they cannot afford to take time off.

In 2013, a study by the Environmental Health Specialists Network, a collaborative project of the CDC, FDA, and USDA, found that sick worker policies “may be an important tool in reducing foodborne illness outbreaks related to ill food workers.” And another study by the CDC found that sick food handlers caused 53% of norovirus outbreaks in the U.S.

Brown said in a statement last week, “tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians. This bill guarantees that millions of workers – from Eureka to San Diego – won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

The law will begin in July 2015. Most workers will earn an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees will be able to use the sick days on the 90th day of employment.

Connecticut is the only other state that has such a bill, although several cities, including New York, San Diego, and Washington have passed similar laws. Connecticut may send a sick leave bill to Governor Christie, but he probably won’t sign it. Industry has historically fought these policies, saying that the law will cost businesses money.


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