The Common Cold May Become Foolproof Excuse for a Paid Day Off
Do you pay your employees for their sick days? For forty percent of the work force, the answer is no. A bill is currently pending in the Connecticut Assembly which would require employers with at least 50 workers to provide at least six and one half paid sick days annually. The Appropriations Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly recently voted 34-19 to approve the bill, but it has not yet been scheduled for a full-chamber vote. No other state requires mandatory paid sick leave, but several states are considering it.
A similar bill is currently pending in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Dubbing it the Healthy Families Act, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the bill in the House on May 18, 2009. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) proposed a companion to the Healthy Families Act on May 21, 2009. The federal bill would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave. The employee would get one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with 56 hours being the maximum. Employers will be free to give more paid sick leave if they choose.
These bills hope to assure that employees are able to protect their health needs rather than succumb to the pressure of a paycheck. It also is touted to diminish health care costs by enabling workers to seek early and routine medical care. Studies show that sick workers drain productivity from the workplace and are likely to spread infectious disease quickly.
Critics of the bills say they are poorly timed. It is too costly for employers who are already hurting from the economic crisis. If the bill is passed, either in the Connecticut General Assembly or in the Congress, the ramifications on certain employers will be great. Moreover, it may encourage politicians to urge other programs to begin mandating more paid time off from employers. Where this will end no one knows.
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