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Legislature Tables Mandated Paid Sick Days for this Year

Posted on July 6, 2012

Beacon Hill lawmakers appear to have killed for this year a bill that would have required Massachusetts companies with more than six employees to provide paid sick time.

Paid Sick DaysThe Joint Committee on Health Care Financing sent the proposal to a study, a step that makes it difficult, though not impossible, for the bill to win approval before the Legislature ends formal sessions on July 31.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) commends the Health Care Financing Committee for setting aside a measure that could impose crippling productivity challenges for employers still wrestling with a balky economy. AIM member employers sent more than 2,000 messages to legislators opposing the paid sick says proposal.

 “The Legislature has done the right thing for thousands of employers, particularly small businesses, working in through a difficult economy to expand and create jobs,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for AIM.

“Employers will remain vigilant to ensure that no similar paid leave proposal is enacted before the end of the session.”

Supporters of mandated paid leave have vowed to re-introduce the proposal when the Legislature begins its 2013-2014 session in January.

AIM and thousands of employers who already provide paid sick time have opposed sick-time mandates because they would take away the flexibility they need to design innovative benefit programs. Decisions regarding any benefit provided to employees should be left to the discretion of the employer based upon economic circumstances, the size of the company, the nature of the employment relationship with each employee and the competitive environment.

The sick leave proposal would have required businesses with fewer than six employees to offer up to 40 hours of unpaid time to workers. Businesses with six to 10 employees would have been required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick time, and businesses with more than 10 employees would have been required to offer up to 56 hours of paid sick time.

Employees would have been eligible for an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employers with more than 10 workers would have been required to comply with the proposal within six months, and all others would have a year to conform their policies to those required in the bill.

The bill would have left an employer with 20 workers facing up to 140 lost work days per year due to state-mandated paid days alone, in addition to the holidays, vacations and personal days currently provided.

Originally sponsored by Rep. Kay Khan and Sen. Patricia Jehlen, the paid sick leave bill (H 3995) was redrafted by Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and released favorably this year from the Labor and Workforce Development Committee co-chaired by the Springfield Democrat.