States Consider Mandatory Sick Leave Bills

March 4, 2010

sick employeeLegislators in various states are proposing bills that would compel employers to provide workers with a designated number of paid sick days.

Crain's New York Business reports that sick leave legislation that would grant employees up to nine paid sick days could be reintroduced this week in New York. Last year, a similar proposal was debated in the City Council.

But small business groups pointed out that the legislation would be unfair to employers. "The proposed changes are just nibbling around the edges and not tackling the fundamental problem that businesses have with this bill," said Matthew Greller, an attorney at Tonio Burgos & Associates lobbying against the bill, who was quoted by Crain's. "It's an enormous and devastating financial burden."

Others counter that the bill is absolutely necessary for New York's employees. "Half of working New Yorkers can't take a sick day without worrying about their livelihood," said a spokesman for the Working Families Party. "Having to choose between your health and your job is a tremendous burden to working families."

In Connecticut, lawmakers are debating a similar proposal that would require all companies to grant mandatory sick leave for part-time and full-time employees. The bill, which would apply to businesses that employ at least 60 people, would give seven paid sick leave days to any employee who logs at least 520 hours of work per year.

But opponents feel that the legislation will hurt businesses and ultimately hamper efforts to create new jobs. "This plan will further hinder any job expansion by prospective employers," said State Rep. John Stripp, who was quoted in the Easton Courier [from an article originally located at http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/eastoncourier/news/localnews/51343-rep-stripp-criticizes-democrats-on-mandatory-sick-leave-bill-push.html]. "It's time to incentivize, not punish, job creators."

In Illinois, voting on legislation that would make paid sick leave mandatory will be delayed until 2011. But small businesses are already speaking out against the proposal.

"I had three people call in sick during the lunch shift earlier this week and I only had two people working," said Mark Aleman, president of the Great River Restaurant Association, who was quoted by the Quincy Herald-Whig. "Under that law I would be paying all those people to stay home."

Amy Looten, executive director of the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, said the legislation would be an unfair financial burden for businesses struggling to stay afloat in the current economic climate. "In this still uncertain economy," she told the Herald-Whig, "the business community does not need a new, expensive mandate from the government."

In a related article, the Associated Press reports that more workers sick at home are keeping in touch with their companies through computers and phones. According to Dave Couper, a Los Angeles-based career coach and corporate human resources consultant, people are under pressure to continue working in order to keep their jobs--even when they're sick.

Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman

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