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Groups push for paid sick days for unincorporated residents

'Staying at home (if sick) ... is critical to stopping the pandemic'

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An economic justice organization and other groups urged the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to pass a paid sick days ordinance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our health depends on the health of the person next to us, and the person next to them," said Kate O'Hara, the executive director of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy.

O'Hara said, "Staying at home if we are sick is critical to stopping the pandemic in its tracks."

The ordinance, which would apply to the unincorporated areas of Alameda County, would require all employers to provide paid sick days to any employee who works at least two hours a week, with no loopholes.

Workers would accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked and could use them for themselves or to care for someone else.

Workers at small businesses with less than 10 employees would be able to accumulate 40 hours of sick leave and workers at larger businesses would be able to accumulate 72 hours of leave.

Similar ordinances have already been in effect in Oakland and San Francisco.

But the proposed ordinance in Alameda County includes an additional provision that every worker would have immediate access to 14 days of paid sick days, regardless of accrual, during declared public health emergencies such as the coronavirus epidemic.

Supporters of the Alameda County measure, who also include community and faith groups, hope that if the Board of Supervisors votes for it, their approval will set an example for all cities in the county, including Berkeley, San Leandro, Hayward, Emeryville and Alameda. The Board of Supervisors has jurisdiction over paid sick leave for unincorporated areas in the county, and cities are governed by their city councils.

O'Hara said the board discussed the ordinance in closed session on Tuesday but didn't vote on it. She said she and other supporters hope the board will approve it at another meeting in the near future.

— Bay City News Service

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