Push For Paid Sick Days Kicks Off In Vermont

CREDIT: The Addison Eagle

On Friday, over 100 supporters of paid sick days in Vermont, including workers and legislators, rallied in support of a new effort to pass a bill in the state legislature. The bill, which they are pushing to get passed in 2014, would require employers to offer their workers up to seven paid days off a year for illness or to care for a sick family member.

While such a bill was introduced in the state House this year and failed, legislators in the House and Senate have said they support the bill this time around. House cosponsors think it has a good chance of passing given that some Senators have said they will introduce it in the Senate. It also has support from two dozen businesses and the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, which claims 1,200 members.

Advocates say that about 60,000 state residents don’t have access to paid sick days at work — about 40 percent of private sector workers. Meanwhile, a poll released at the rally shows that nearly three-quarters of Vermont voters support the bill.

Vermont is the latest in a wave of campaigns in cities and states to enact paid sick leave laws. Similar efforts are underway in Tacoma, WA; Jersey City, NJ; New Jersey; and Massachusetts, and Washington, DC is considering an expansion of its existing law. If any succeed, they would join five cities — New York City; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; and Portland, OR — and the state of Connecticut in those that have paid sick leave laws.

In the country as a whole, 40 percent of private sector workers don’t have access to paid sick days, including 80 percent of low-income workers, and those who do get fewer days off than in 1993.

Those places that already have these laws show the benefits. Business growth has remained strong under Seattle’s law and job growth has actually been stronger. San Francisco’s has spurred job growth while having little negative impact and enjoying strong business support. Connecticut’s has come with little cost and huge potential upsides. Washington, DC’s law has had no negative impact on business.