Santa Rosa Extends Paid Sick Leave During Pandemic

Only July 7, the Santa Rosa City Council voted 7-0 to require that more local employers allow their workers to take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave during the coronavirus pandemic. This new rule was passed as an “urgency ordinance,” meaning that it went into effect immediately.

The expanded federal requirement now covers national chain employers, health care workers, and emergency responders, as well as businesses that employ more than 500 people. Prior to this emergency measure, a loophole was in place that allowed such employers to bypass the federally regulated extended sick leave period.

The new Santa Rosa emergency ordinance will additionally remove Congress’ limit on sick leave compensation for child and dependent care. For example, this will allow a parent or guardian to better care for a child when in need during the ongoing pandemic, such as if their child’s school or daycare is closed down due to COVID-19. However, there is an exemption to this policy in place for small businesses that are close to bankruptcy or permanent closure. Such businesses are allowed to bypass the emergency ordinance, as they may require their employees to work in order to stay afloat.

The aim of the emergency ordinance is ultimately to protect people from going to work while they are sick in order to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19. There have been many suspected cases of employees going into work even when they are sick due to their fear of not making enough money to pay for bills and other necessities. With this new rule in place, hopefully more employees will feel comfortable taking sick leave when they begin to experience symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

The proposal was spearheaded by local workers’ advocacy group North Bay Jobs with Justice and the North Bay Labor Council. The City Council vote came just as the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the area began to increase.

Have you or a loved one become ill due to your work conditions? You may be able to receive compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. Contact our Santa Rosa workers’ compensation attorneys today to schedule your free, confidential consultation.