Workers in California will soon receive a minimum of five days of paid sick leave annually, instead of three.

The new law, which takes effect in January, also increases the amount of sick leave workers can carry over into the following year. In a press statement, Governor Gavin Newsom said the law demonstrates that prioritizing the health and well-being of workers “is of the utmost importance for California’s future.”

Beyond preventing workers from choosing between taking a day off or getting paid, proponents of the legislation argue it will help curb the spread of diseases and make sure employees can be productive at work. But the California Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses across the state, said it will be burdensome for small businesses.

Read: Employees consider flexible hours, more sick days most important support tools: survey

“Far too many small employers simply cannot absorb this new cost, especially when viewed in context of all of California’s other leaves and paid benefits and they will have to reduce jobs, cut wages or raise consumer prices to deal with this mandate,” said Jennifer Barrera, the group’s president, in a press release.

The law was among several major labour initiatives in the legislature this year, including proposals to raise the wages of health-care workers and allow legislative staffers to unionize. Newsom already signed a law to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to US$20 an hour. But he vetoed a bill that would have given unemployment benefits to striking workers, saying the fund that the state would use is approaching nearly $20 billion in debt.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, which supported the sick day legislation, said the law will help prevent the spread of deadly diseases.

“Five paid sick days is a step in the right direction and workers will be less likely forced to risk their livelihoods to do the right thing and stay home when they’re sick because of this bill,” said Andrea Zinder, president of the group’s Local 324 chapter, in a statement.

Read: B.C. giving workers five paid sick days starting in 2022