Party lines largely hold strong as four states debate paid sick leave bills
- Four states are debating paid sick leave, with Maine and Michigan legislators favoring legislation and Maryland and Minnesota officials in opposition, SHRM reports. Employers aren’t federally mandated to provide workers paid sick leave, but some states are proposing bills that could.
- Maine Sen. Rebecca Millett (D) is proposing a paid sick leave bill for employers with 50 or more employees. Michigan Democrats are pushing for one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) opposes mandated paid sick leave and vows to veto any legislation lawmakers pass. Minnesota’s Republican-led legislature also opposes paid sick leave and passed a bill to overturn Minneapolis-St. Paul’s leave ordinance.
The paid sick leave debate is playing out along party lines in some states, with pro-labor Democrats favoring mandates and pro-business Republicans providing opposition.
Employers might feel pulled in two directions over the paid sick leave tug-of-war between the two political parties. Employers that offer paid sick leave benefits can gain a competitive advantage over other organizations in attracting and retaining talent.
At the same time, paid sick leave is a costly benefit, especially for small business. The cost is likely the reason Representative Millett’s bill calls for small businesses to offer unpaid sick leave. Even so, data from the impact of New York City's paid sick leave bill, passed in 2013, has not affected local businesses negatively.
A few large companies, like Chobani, are offering generous paid leave benefits. But studies show these maverick companies haven’t started a corporate trend.
Federal contractors are now required to offer paid sick leave, although the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers might roll back the ruling.
Employers might consider whether paid sick leave would relieve low-wage earners of the burden of going without pay to take a sick day for themselves or their families. Employers also might need to think about whether offering paid sick leave would prevent sick employees from coming to the office ill.