Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told business leaders Friday he will support legislation requiring paid sick leave for employees, which many companies oppose.
Two days after taking office as the state's first Democratic governor in two decades, Malloy struck a conciliatory tone in his first appearance before the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the state's largest business group.
He acknowledged that his position on a paid sick leave requirement will generate opposition, but he said it could make a significant difference in the lives of employees.
"I hope none of your children were dropped off at a day care center where people came to work with the flu or a cold or some other malady because they feared that they would lose their job if they didn't show up today," Malloy told the gathering of more than 300 business owners, managers and representatives.
The governor said he is willing to negotiate the number of hours an employee would have to work to earn paid sick leave.
"We're going to disagree appropriately when we disagree but we'll always be working together to make Connecticut more business-friendly, more competitive and to be a state that once again can reasonably project that it could create jobs in the not too distant future," Malloy said.
The sick leave mandate has failed in previous sessions of the legislature. A House version that passed in 2009 would have required companies with 50 workers or more to give employees at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work. It did not pass the Senate.
It was not immediately clear whether lawmakers will introduce legislation this year requiring paid sick leave. Sen. Edith Prague, co-chairwoman of the Labor & Public Employees Committee, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Kia Murrell, a lobbyist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said it opposes the mandate and that government should not tell companies how to manage their employees.
"We think it's a bad idea," she said.
Many companies already offer paid sick leave to their workers and are concerned about government intruding on businesses' ability to manage their workers, she said.
In addition, no state has yet enacted paid sick leave legislation and if Connecticut becomes the first it would make the state unattractive to new business, Murrell said.
She also said it was unlikely that Malloy and the Democratic legislature could propose a measure offering enough concessions to win support from businesses.
"We haven't seen any compromise that would be palatable to the business community," she said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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