A bill that would require companies with 50 or more employees to offer paid sick leave advanced in the legislature Thursday afternoon with a 6-5 vote of the labor committee.
The committee has approved such a bill for four straight years now, though it has never made it to law.
On Thursday, Democrats voted in favor of the bill except for Rep. Ernest Hewett, D-New London, who joined Republicans in voting against it.
Advocates for the bill say about 553,000 Connecticut workers, or 39 percent of the state's private-sector workforce, lack paid sick time. The bill's passage would benefit about 257,000 of those workers, they say.
It would allow employees to accrue paid sick leave after three months on the job at the rate of one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association is leading the charge against the bill, arguing that it would be a costly and unnecessary burden on the state's businesses. The CBIA and others say this year's bill sends the wrong message to the business community at a critical time.
"It's about jobs, and we want to make sure that everyone in Connecticut who wants a job can find a job," said Kia Murrell, associate counsel at CBIA.
The bill passed in the full state Senate in 2008 and in the House in 2009, but did not come to floor votes last year, when then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she would veto it. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he supports it.
"This is a commonsense public health reform to ensure that people who prepare our food or drive our children to school or care for the sick and elderly don't feel compelled to come to work sick," Jon Green, executive director of Connecticut Working Families, said after the vote Thursday.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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