Paid sick leave, lead ammo, smartphones affected by new laws

AP logo
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- More than six million workers are expected to benefit from a new law taking effect Wednesday that requires California employers to provide them at least three paid sick days a year.

The measure applies to most employees who work at least 30 days a year. The workers will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

It's among several new laws that take effect at the start of the state's new fiscal year.

California will continue to phase in a ban on lead ammunition by barring its use for hunting in certain areas. In addition, smartphones manufactured and sold starting in July must have a kill switch to make the devices less attractive to thieves.

But it's the sick leave bill that will have the most impact on the day-to-day lives of many employees and their families, including those who work temporary and part-time jobs.

"This will be the first state where every single private-sector worker will be guaranteed this right," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who carried AB1522.

She said 6.5 million Californians have never had the opportunity to take paid sick time and never been assured that their job will still be there if they take sick time.

Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon have enacted similar laws that include exemptions for small businesses and allow workers five paid or unpaid sick days annually. The Connecticut law took effect in 2012. Massachusetts' law also takes effect July 1, while Oregon's begins Jan. 1.

"This policy is good for workers, good for business and good for the economy," said Vicki Shabo, a vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which promotes such policies.

The National Federation of Independent Business in California said about 85 percent of small businesses already provide of sick leave. However, the record-keeping and threat of being sued if they don't comply with every letter of the law can be burdensome, legislative director Ken DeVore said.

The new law adds to other regulations that make it difficult to do business in California, he said.

California's law exempts about 363,000 employees paid through the state's In-Home Supportive Services network who care for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The exemption was included after Gov. Jerry Brown said granting them the sick days would have increased the state's costs for the programs.

"So you're admitting it's an expensive policy, but the businesses should just suck it up and deal with it," DeVore said.

One proposed law won't go on the books Wednesday.

What would have been then nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags stalled after opponents qualified a referendum for the November 2016 ballot.