SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — “Paid sick leave is as critical as getting vaccinated or wearing a mask if you or your children are sick or exposed you need to make sure not to pass it on and that means staying at home.”

At an online news conference Thursday, California labor leaders, workers and legislators called on the California legislature to bring back COVID-19 sick pay.

“We’ve already implemented the policy once, we need to implement it again immediately,” Bay Area state Senator Dave Cortese said. “Supplemental paid sick leave is one of the most important weapons against the virus to slow the spread. That’s the science, not just an economic issue or a worker protection issue, but the science.”

The state’s supplemental covid-19 sick leave expired at the end of September, and those calling for its reinstatement say it’s led to a series of awful choices.

“The expiration of covid paid sick leave has left workers and essential workers more vulnerable,” said Georgette Bradford, Ultrasound Technologist for Kaiser. “Now we are forced to choose between protecting our communities or staying home when we are sick and losing pay.”

If the legislature brings it back, it won’t resemble what California had last year.

That’s because in 2021 there was federal funding to help support small businesses.

That is no longer in play.

“That federal funding is no longer available,” state Senator Wendy Carrillo said. “So what we have before us is an opportunity with a 46 billion dollar surplus in the state budget is an opportunity for the governor, the senate, and the assembly to be creative in terms of what does this look like if we are going to move it forward because there is no federal funding assistance.”

If it does move forward it is unclear how quickly it could be passed or enacted.

Although, Gov. Newsom is on record as saying sick leave is a top priority for him.