Oakland City Leaders OK Paid Sick Leave for Essential Workers

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for essential workers during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave for Oakland Employees measure, introduced by City Councilwoman Sheng Thao, will affect workers like grocery clerks, janitors and delivery people.

The ordinance builds on the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act signed by President Donald Trump back in February.

That act requires that small and mid-sized businesses, defined as one with less than 500 employees, provide workers up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds the worker's regular rate of pay if the workers is unable to work because of a need to care for someone under quarantine or to care for a child whose school or daycare has been closed.

Thao's ordinance expands that requirement to large businesses with more than 500 employees and also pay for up to 100 percent of workers' paid sick leave.

"The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the deep flaws in our economic system and leaves thousands of essential workers at risk," Thao said in a statement. "This ordinance will ensure every full-time worker has 80 hours of sick pay compensated at their normal wage level so if they are exposed to COVID-19 they can take the time to get better without financial hardship. By allowing workers exposed to COVID-19 to self-isolate without fear of financial hardship, this ordinance will also slow the spread of the virus."

The ordinance takes effect immediately, according to Thao.

Both San Jose and San Francisco have already passed similar measures.

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