CalChamber Urges Veto on Job Killer Bill That Disproportionally Affects Small Business

(September 20, 2023) A California Chamber of Commerce job killer bill that will impose significant costs on all California businesses by increasing the number of paid sick days employers are required to provide has been sent to the Governor.

The CalChamber is urging the Governor to veto SB 616 (Gonzalez; D-Long Beach) as it disproportionally affects small business, which are already struggling to keep their doors open and can’t afford the increased cost of additional paid sick leave days.

SB 616 amends the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act to increase the number of paid sick leave days afforded to employees from three to five.

While one more paid benefit may not seem significant in isolation, this mandate must be viewed in the context of all of California’s other leaves and paid benefits. Despite the economic struggles that businesses have faced recently, the number of overlapping leaves has grown over the last few years and continues to grow.

Businesses in California that can afford to offer more than three days of sick leave are doing so, but many other employers simply cannot absorb that cost. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, many small businesses are “in survival mode” as they reel from the financial impacts of COVID-19 and rising inflation.

Another concern with SB 616 is that the bill does not address existing problems with the usage of paid sick leave in California. Specifically, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act prohibits employers from requiring documentation when sick leave is used, even though local ordinances such as in Los Angeles and San Diego allow employers to ask for reasonable documentation.

Employers have discovered employees using paid sick leave for non-sick leave-related purposes, but there is nothing they can do because otherwise the employers face an alleged violation for interfering with or discouraging the use of leave.

SB 616 will increase labor costs and these increases will inevitably either be passed on to consumers as higher prices for goods and services, or force employers to reduce jobs or cut wages or other benefits.

SB 616 should be vetoed.

The Governor has until October 14 to make a decision on this measure.