Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson) introduced SB 375 to provide employers with financial relief from the cost of compliance with the new COVID-19 workplace safety standards that took effect in early February. SB 375 would provide an annual credit against state payroll taxes to reimburse employers for costs such as testing, masking, ventilation systems, exclusion from work, and other pandemic-based regulatory compliance costs.
“California still has some of the most rigid COVID-19 workplace standards in the country,” said Alvarado-Gil. “To the extent that our state government demands that California be the outlier, I believe the state should bear those costs, not employers who are still recovering from the shutdown in 2020.”
For three years, California employers have complied with stringent workplace safety requirements related to COVID-19. More than 61,000 California businesses permanently closed their doors during that time, and roughly 2.5 million Californians lost their jobs. SB 375 is supported by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).
“Winegrape growers thank Senator Alvarado-Gil for her leadership in taking on this issue,” said Michael Miiller, CAWG’s Director of Government Relations. “Economic recovery from a global pandemic does not happen by flipping a switch. The average wine industry employer will take two to three years to fully recover. In the midst of that recovery, the new COVID-19 regulation will significantly increase the cost of doing business with no measurable or quantifiable protections for employees.”
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, 29 states have COVID-19 hospitalization rates comparable to or lower than California’s. According to statista.com, 14 states have COVID-19 death rates comparable to or lower than California’s. It is important to note that every one of those red and blue states alike, said Alvarado-Gil, has repealed or substantially scaled back any COVID-19 workplace safety standards.
California’s emergency COVID-19 regulation ended in January and was replaced by the new regulation, which will stay in effect for all of 2023 and 2024. SB 375 provides an annual tax credit which would be capped at $100 per employee for small employers and $50 per employee for large employers.
“The COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations make employers liable for a community-spread virus. This is nonsensical, especially in rural communities where small businesses are the backbone of the economy,” concluded Alvarado-Gil.
Senator Alvarado-Gil represents the 4th Senate District, including the counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne.
To learn more about Senator Alvarado-Gil, go to: https://sd04.senate.ca.gov/.