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Photograph: Unsplash/Nathália Rosa

All California food service workers can now get two weeks paid sick leave

By
Stephanie Breijo
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Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order today that offers food workers two weeks of paid sick leave and spurs new sanitary measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The California governor outlined the new order in today’s daily briefing, detailing that members of the food service workforce impacted by coronavirus—including farmworkers, agricultural workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers and fast-food–chain employees—will qualify, provided they work for a company that employs more than 500 people.

The order is meant to benefit workers left unaided by Congress’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into action March 18, which offers 14 days of paid leave for those affected by coronavirus—but only if their employer oversees fewer than 500 people. Now, at least in California, everyone still working in food service must be provided two weeks of sick leave. 

The most recent order comes on the heels of a number of statewide initiatives that can help members of the food industry: Yesterday Gov. Newsom signed an executive order delegating $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians, including undocumented workers, while last week he made $100 million available for essential workers in need of child care services.

“Workers in the food sector are the unsung heroes of this unprecedented time,” Newsom tweeted this afternoon. “I signed an Executive Order that will increase sanitary measures and give 2 weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for #COVID19. Our grocery lines have become our frontlines and must be treated as such.”

Additionally, the order ensures that workers at all food facilities must be permitted to wash their hands every 30 minutes—or as needed—an important step in industries that often rely on scheduled breaks for this.

“We must do everything in our power to make sure they are taken care of at home and in the workplace,” Newsom said today. “Making sure they have paid sick leave and added protections in their place of work is critical.”

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