As Gonzalez’s First Bill for the 2015-16 Session, AB 11 Would Extend Landmark Law to 365,000 More Californians
SACRAMENTO – (Monday, Dec. 1, 2014) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 11 to provide at least three paid sick days to California’s in-home supportive services (IHSS) employees annually as her first official legislative proposal of the 2015-16 legislative session that began today.
“All Californians deserve the basic right to seek medical care when they're sick without risking the loss of pay or even their job,” Gonzalez said. “This Legislature and Governor made it clear that paid sick days are a step forward in protecting California’s working families when we guaranteed three sick days for all private sector workers last year. It’s important the caregivers we trust to keep hundreds of thousands of people and their households healthy are also provided this important public health benefit.”
According to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there are nearly 7 million California workers that cannot even take an hour off of work to care for themselves or a loved one who is sick without the real possibility that they lose pay or even their job. More than 6.5 million of those workers – most of whom work in the private sector – will be covered by California’s new paid sick days law when AB 1522 (also by Assemblywoman Gonzalez) goes into effect July 1, 2015.
The IHSS program in California’s counties employees about 370,000 caregivers who are currently exempted from the state’s paid sick days law. These employees perform housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care and hygiene services and protective supervision services to low-income, Medi-Cal-eligible Californians who are either 65 years age or older, disabled or blind in their homes. The IHSS program has been credited for saving the state billions in taxpayer costs annually because it serves as an alternate to more costly out-of-home care, such as nursing homes.
“IHSS employees are among the poorest Californians themselves while also providing critical services to the members of our communities who are the most in need – the elderly, the blind and the disabled,” Gonzalez said. “Paid sick days is going to be an important part in our state’s safety net and I feel strongly that it must be made available to those who take care of our society’s most vulnerable.”
Under AB 11, IHSS caregivers could earn, accrue and use paid sick leave at the same rates and for the same purposes as employees who are covered by the AB 1522 paid sick days law. The bill would require public agencies employing IHSS caregivers – which are currently established on a county-by-county basis – to allow caregivers to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. AB 11 would allow the agency to limit a caregiver’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or 3 days every year.
Losing just 3 days of pay because of illness can equate to a whole month’s worth grocery bill for a low-income family. Additionally, in the recently released “Shriver Report” about women and poverty, paid sick days was listed as the most important reform that could be made to improve the lives of working women. In fact, more than 90 percent of single women said it was the most important policy that their employer could adopt to improve their lives.