advertisement
February 13, 2019

Legislature revisits bill that would require employers to provide sick leave

Courtesy / Maine Senate website
Courtesy / Maine Senate website
Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Senate District 29, is sponsoring a bill that would require employers with more than five employees to implement a paid sick leave policy, in which employees would earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Senate District 29, would require employers with more than five employees to implement a paid sick leave policy, in which employees would earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

The measure, which is similar to a defeated bill that Millett sponsored in 2017, is likely to draw resistance from the same groups that opposed it earlier — including Maine Chamber of Commerce, Maine Restaurant Association, Maine Innkeepers Association and Retail Association of Maine.

Under the bill, employers with fewer than five employees would be required to allow employees to accrue and use at least 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year.

LD 369, An Act to Support Healthy Workplaces and Healthy Families by Providing Earned Paid Sick Leave to Certain Employees, is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 25, 11 a.m., in the Cross Building, Room 202, Augusta, according to the Legislature's website.

As proposed, the bill states that employers that would be subject to the paid sick leave requirement would not be required to pay the earned paid leave until an employee has been employed for 90 days. The earned leave would accrue at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked, starting at the beginning of employment.

"The employer shall permit an employee to carry forward at least 40 hours of accrued earned paid sick leave to the following year, but an employer is not required to allow the use of more than 40 hours of earned paid sick leave in one year," the bill states. "An employers may provide all earned paid sick leave the employee is expected to earn in a year at the beginning of the year."

The bill specifies that the accrued earned paid sick leave may be used for either the employee's or a family member's:

  • Mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
  • Medical diagnosis, care or treatment of those conditions.
  • Preventative medical care.

It also spells out circumstances that would be covered if the employee, or a family member, is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.

For the full text of the eight-page bill, click on the PDF at the end of this story.

Paid sick leave: Pro and con

Source: Maine Center for Economic Policy
Source: Maine Center for Economic Policy

"The lack of paid sick days decreases workers' financial security and hurts our economy," Garrett Martin, executive director of Maine Center for Economic Policy, said in a statement sent to Mainebiz. "Mainers lose $115 million in wages every year as a result of sick leave, while productivity and public health both take a hit when people show up to work sick."

In its "State of Working Maine 2018" report, which was released last November, MCEP stated paid sick leave is a requirement in 10 states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia.

"Workers without paid sick leave are three times more likely to forgo medical care for themselves compared to workers with access to paid leave," the report states. "They are also less likely to seek medical care for their family members. Ultimately, this means worse health for employees and increased costs for employers down the line, when minor illnesses become chronic conditions."

The report states that there's a strong correlation between a worker's hourly wage and paid sick leave, with 67% of those earning up to $12 and hour receiving no paid sick leave, while only 11% of those being paid $29/hour and up receive no paid sick leave benefit.

A similar bill sponsored by Millett in 2017 was endorsed by the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee in a 5-4 party line vote, but was defeated in the Maine Senate by a 20-15 vote on a motion to reject the legislation.

The Maine Chamber of Commerce, Maine Restaurant Association, Maine Innkeepers Association, Retail Association of Maine and Maine Department of Labor were among those that opposed Millett's 2017 bill, while the Maine Women's Lobby, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Education Association, Maine People's Alliance and the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness all testified in favor of it.

In its testimony against the 2017 bill the Maine State Chamber of Commerce said the sick leave requirements "will add significant and immediate cost to an employer's bottom line and create a new and burdensome tracking and reporting requirement for every affected Maine business."

"The Maine chamber believes this proposal moves our state and our economy in the wrong direction, driving up the overall cost of doing business here, and creating yet another deterrent for employers who are trying to locate or expand their businesses in Maine," the chamber stated.

DOWNLOAD PDFs

Text of sick leave bill

Comments

Type your comment here:

Today's Poll How do you see Gov. Janet Mills' proposed budget?<>
ADVERTISEMENTS
Most Popular on Facebook