Democrats Announce Bills Ensuring Paid Sick Leave for Workers
LANSING – Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), State Representatives Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and other legislators announced at a press conference today that they are introducing legislation that would allow workers to take earned paid time off to recover from illnesses or care for a sick family member. These bills would require employers to allow workers to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work.
“No one should have to choose between caring for a sick loved one, or earning a paycheck,” Ananich said. “When employees can’t afford to stay home, everyone loses. Providing for paid sick days is the best way to make sure every employee can give their best on the job, and off.”
“Allowing workers to accumulate paid sick leave is just a common-sense way to keep your workers healthy and productive while also protecting the health of co-workers, customers, and the general public,” said Chang. “When a sick co-worker comes into work or a restaurant server or cook is forced to work while sick because she or he cannot afford to take time off, we are all at greater risk for getting sick. But too many Michigan workers do have to work sick because they don’t have any paid leave time that would allow them to stay home. Our bills will help protect families and women.”
According to a 2011 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, more than 1 million Michigan workers—about 46 percent of private sector workers—cannot take sick leave when they are ill.
House Bill 4167 and the Senate bill would:
- Require employers to set aside one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an employee works regardless of whether an employee is part-time or full-time.
- Stipulate when a worker could use this earned time off, including during their own illness, the illness of a close family member or recovery after a violent crime.
- Protect all Michigan families including LGBT families, grandparents raising children, domestic partners raising children and single parent families.
“The 22-year-old federal Family Medical Leave Act was a significant step forward for workers needing time to care for themselves or family members, but it only goes so far, and that is why we need to pass this paid sick leave bill here in Michigan,” said Geiss. “As a mother of two children, I know what parents go through when a child is too sick to go to school, or when the school calls and says that you need to come and pick up your sick child. It’s enough that you’re worried about your child. You shouldn’t also have to worry about having to choose between keeping your job or caring for your child.”
Companies that fall under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are only required to offer unpaid sick leave to their workers. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to pass a paid sick leave law. In the recent 2014 elections, Massachusetts, the city of Oakland, Calif., and Montclair and Trenton, N.J., passed sick day proposals, and Oregon, Maryland, Minnesota and other states are currently exploring statewide expansion of paid sick days.