August 19, 2015 - The California paid sick leave law went into effect across the state on July 1st. 6.5 million of the lowest paid workers in the state were provided with the right to call in sick and still receive payment for wages they would have earned had they not been sick and instead been able to work. One month after the new requirement went into effect, at least one group of workers benefitting from the change has found that there is also a price to pay: their hours are being cut. NOVA Commercial provides custodial services to a number of different government buildings. One such government building is the San Diego County Courthouse. NOVA Commercial recently informed their employees that they would be experiencing a cut in their hours. Employees speaking out anonymously state that the cuts are being made in direct response to the new law requiring that employers provide workers with three paid sick days each year.
In a meeting workers were advised that they would receive three sick days. They were also told that the company would be cutting their hours. Numerous employees of the company have verified this information.
Workers at NOVA Commercial earn $9 per hour with no additional benefits. Some employees have seen their hours cut from five days per week to four resulting in a total annual loss of 52 days per year (and three paid sick days). This amounts to a decrease in overall annual pay of $3,528 each year for these employees. Many employees are worried as this will make it difficult for them to pay rent, bills and even pay for uniforms as their kids are now returning to school for the fall. Some are even worried that it will mean they can’t put food on the table for their families. The County’s contract with NOVA does not prohibit the company from cutting hours and every NOVA employee signed an employment document that states that the company reserves the right to change hours, wages or working conditions without notice.
When asked about the document, it was stated that most of the workers are Latinos and many can’t read or understand English very well, making it difficult for them to know exactly what they are signing during the employment process. Claims are being made that the company took advantage of this during their job hiring – not explaining what the documents meant could actually happen in the future.