Paid Sick Leave Bill Heads To Full Senate After Committee OK
By AMANDA FALCONE
April 24, 2010
HARTFORD — Advocates hope the third time's the charm for legislation mandating paid sick leave.
After much debate Friday, the legislature's appropriations committee voted 28-18 to approve a bill that would require businesses with 50 or more employees to let workers accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year.
The measure, which would take effect in 2011, now goes to the full Senate for debate.
It would prevent employers from discriminating against a worker who requests or uses sick time. Non-complying employers could be fined $600 per violation. The bill does not apply to temporary workers or certain state college or university employees.
Businesses are not now required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave.
The Senate passed a similar bill in 2008, but the House never voted on it. In 2009, the House passed a paid sick leave bill, but the Senate did not vote on it.
Those who favor the bill say paid sick days would help prevent the spread of disease in offices and help productivity. Many people must go to work sick because they need the day's pay, said Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, a strong advocate of the bill.
Opponents say that businesses would be hurt by the unfunded mandate during tough economic times, and that the bill would drive businesses away from a state already known for being "business unfriendly." The Connecticut Business and Industry Association has been lobbying hard against it.
"This is a business killer," said Sen. Robert Kane, R- Watertown, of the proposal.
But not everyone believes paid sick leave will hurt businesses financially. Some say it would actually save them money.
A report recently released by the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, D.C., says that a paid sick leave bill would save Connecticut businesses $73 million each year. The cost of implementing paid sick time would be outstripped by a large reduction in costs associated with employee turnover, the report said.
The state's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women reports that about 553,000 Connecticut workers do not receive paid sick days. Of those, fewer than half would get paid sick time if the proposed bill gets signed into law, the commission says.
The bill's opponents Friday tried unsuccessfully to make the legislation less restrictive. Another effort to modify the bill — by restricting it to service workers only — also failed. Prague said that amendment was a ploy by opponents to tie up the bill and have it die in committee.
The appropriations committee is not the first to the pass the bill. The labor and public employees committee, chaired by Prague, approved the bill in March.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at