Victory: CT Becomes First State to Pass Paid Sick Leave Law

It's hard to believe that the ability to take paid time off work when you're ill is controversial. If you can't afford to take time off, how will you ever get well, or find time to seek medical help? And what favors are you doing for your employer, bringing germs into the joint? Then there are parents and caretakers: without paid sick days, how are they supposed to care for dependents who've fallen ill?

For these and many other reasons, it seems like a bill requiring businesses to offer employees a certain number of paid sick days would be a no-brainer. And yet, whenever and wherever they've been introduced, paid sick leave bills have generated a lot of controversy. But there's good news: last night Connecticut became the first state to pass a paid sick leave measure. The Times:

The State Senate approved the bill on May 25 in an 18-to-17 vote, with one Republican voting in favor and five Democrats opposed....

The bill would require only service companies with 50 or more workers to provide paid sick days.

The measure was significantly toned down from earlier versions, but opponents raised the same objections, that the bill was antibusiness and counterproductive at a time of high unemployment and low job creation in a state that has consistently lagged behind the nation in creating jobs. Proponents said it offered major and overdue protections for workers and for the public health, particularly at a time when workers’ rights were under attack.

It sucks that the bill had to be watered down to make it through the legislature, especially with such a stupid argument against it. (Who will think of the businesses??) But considering that no other statewide paid sick leave bill has made it into the law books, we should consider this a victory.

There's heartening news at the city level that these laws actually work, by the way. Per a Connecticut Working Families Party statement:

San Francisco enacted the nation's first paid sick leave policy in 2007. According to a recent in depth survey, two thirds of employers in San Francisco now support the city's policy. A recent study by the global accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers named San Francisco the world's third best city for business and innovation.

According to the Times, "liberal groups have presented similar legislation in other states and cities." So with ground broken in Connecticut, other successes could follow. 

(h/t Allison Kilkenny)

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at June 4, 2011, 5:25am

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