SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The San Jose City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an emergency paid sick leave ordinance, providing much needed relief for essential employees who are still working during the coronavirus pandemic.

The citywide expansion for paid sick leave was first proposed by city councilmembers Sylvia Arenas, Maya Esparza, and Magdalena Carrasco in early March and a final draft of the ordinance is expected to be voted on at a meeting on April 7.

Unlike other large cities in the state, San Jose has no mandatory sick leave requirements for businesses. Workers are covered under California law, but only for three days of sick time.

In San Jose’s rules committee, city councilmembers proposed extending that to 80 hours.

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The extension will provide a cushion for an estimated 35% of San Jose workers don’t have any paid sick leave, with women, blacks and Latinos particularly at risk, according to a city council memo.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says that risk is a big concern during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We encourage employees to make good decisions. Particularly in the restaurants where we know if people are sick, they may be working, preparing food and spreading a virus. It’s important that everyone feel they have a choice to stay home without financial risk to themselves,” Liccardo said.

The extra paid leave would have to be covered by employers. And the city is now looking for ways to support small and micro businesses to help them provide workers with the extra paid sick time off, if they need it.

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