Sick-Time Rules Re-Emerge: More Governments Look to Require Small Businesses to Provide Time-Off Benefits
Thomas Erb is ticked about the possibility he’ll be forced to hand employees even more paid sick time.
He fears lapses in productivity at his 30-employee clock-making firm, Electric Time Co., from possible increases in unscheduled absences.
“We have one person per job here,” says Mr. Erb, of Medfield, Mass. “If someone starts to abuse the sick [leave], the organization doesn’t function.”
A debate over paid sick leave is intensifying around the country, amid concerns that economic pressures are prompting workers to place their financial security above their health.
Many people will go to work while ill—and even send their children to school sick—because they can’t afford to stay home, supporters of paid sick time say.
Supporters are concerned by signs that small employers have begun cutting back on paid sick-day benefits.
About 32% of businesses with fewer than 50 employees provided paid time off specifically for illness in 2011, compared with 39% in 2009, according to the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va.
Connecticut in January became the first state to require paid sick leave, though businesses with fewer than 50 workers are exempt.
Seattle will mandate paid sick time, starting in September, even for firms of a relatively small size. Those with between five and 49 employees, for instance, must let their workers accrue at least five days of paid sick time yearly.
The push for paid sick days initially gained major prominence in late 2008, when President Obama, while president-elect, said he wanted a federal sick-day mandate. By then, the city of San Francisco and the District of Columbia had already begun to mandate paid sick days