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Paid Sick Leave Advances at State & Local Level

By Bill Kramer | September 10, 2015

Despite arguments from employers that mandated paid leave raises the costs for businesses to hire new workers, particularly smaller companies and those already operating on slim profit margins, it remains a popular issue among activists. Paid sick leave laws continue to expand and are in place in 25 jurisdictions across the country – four states, D.C., and 20 localities.

In 2011, the Connecticut legislature passed the nation's first paid sick leave law for private employers (Paid Sick Leave Act), but its application is limited to certain service workers. Under the Connecticut law, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide accrued paid sick leave each year, up to 40 hours. Washington, D.C. enacted its own Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act in 2008, and a number of other cities have adopted paid sick leave laws. These local actions have prompted some state legislatures to pass legislation blocking cities from enacting their own sick leave ordinances.
Just before the end of California’s 2014 legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill (Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522) to mandate private employers provide employees with three days of paid sick leave each year. The final measure passed despite opposition by major employee unions and the ire of several prominent Democrats after the bill was amended to exclude home healthcare workers. However, Governor Brown (D) supported the final measure and signed the bill into law, making California the second state to mandate that private employers provide paid sick leave.
In November 2014, voters passed a ballot initiative making Massachusetts the third state to mandate paid sick leave for private employers (Earned Sick Time for Employees). The measure requires that employers with more than 10 workers provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to its employees. Massachusetts employees will earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Paid Sick Leave Map September NL
Proponents continue to push for paid sick leave laws on the local level. In
New Jersey, the municipalities of Newark, Jersey City, Montclair, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Trenton, and Bloomfield have all passed their own version of paid sick leave laws. Opponents are arguing in state court that New Jersey municipalities do not have authority to enforce paid sick leave laws. Other cities and counties that have paid sick leave ordinances include San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville, California; Portland (predates statewide paid sick leave law and will survive for some limited purposes) and Eugene (preempted by statewide paid sick leave law), Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma (effective Feb. 2016), Washington; New York City, New York; Montgomery County (effective Oct. 2016), Maryland; and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (effective 90 days after the Agency posts regulations and notice information for employers), Pennsylvania.

Oregon became the fourth state the pass paid sick leave in July 2015 when Governor Brown (D) signed a paid sick leave mandate (OR SB 454) into law. The new paid sick leave law (effective Jan. 2016) will provide workers at companies with 10 or more employees with 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

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