Rhode Island Paid Leave Bill: See You in September!

The Rhode Island legislature last week passed a budget and a few other bills, and then left town, portending at least six more weeks of limbo for the proposed Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act. The legislature will meet on September 19 to deal with various bills it left in limbo at the end of the regular session which, presumably, includes the paid leave bill.


Before a bill can be sent to the governor for her signature, the House and Senate must reconcile the versions each has passed.  Among the differences are the minimum number of employees an employer must employ to be covered by the Act, and the maximum number of paid hours an employee can accrue annually.

The wait for State Number Eight continues. I suspect that the Rhode Island legislature is the only legislature with any meaningful chance of passing a PSL bill in 2017.

Lucky 7 Wins Font Fight in Albuquerque

The text of the Healthy Workforce Ordinance will be printed on the October referendum ballot in 7 point font, not in the 8.5 font requested, a state district court judge ruled last week, according to a local newspaper report. Proponents of the HWO had filed an emergency motion to stop the City from printing the 7-point font ballot.  They had claimed a 7-point ballot was “illegible and [an] illegally-small font size.”dice-1934002_1280

The judge also rejected the City’s effort to include an “advisory” question on the ballot, according to that report. That advisory question asked whether the City should “promptly enact a sick leave ordinance in a manner that promotes public participation, public hearings, transparency and fairness so that a wise and workable sick leave policy is adopted and effective no later than January 1, 2019[].”

The judge said that the advisory question “employs semantically ‘loaded’ terms and clearly implies that the proposed (Healthy Workforce Ordinance) is not transparent, fair, wise or workable,” according to the newspaper report.

A second lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the HWO. That complaint alleges that combining the HWO’s 14 “non-interdependent” provisions into one voter initiative is “logrolling” in violation of the state constitution. Logrolling, also known as the “single subject” rule, is defined in the lawsuit as “the presentation of double or multiple propositions to the voters with no chance to vote on the separate questions so that unpopular, unworkable or extreme new laws will be voted on, with a potentially popular idea.”  The City and other defendants have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. A hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, August 10. Courts in Arizona and Washington have rejected “single subject” rule challenges to their state paid sick leave law. My posts on those decisions are here and here.

Minnesota Paid Sick Leave Redux

It began with the Fracas in Minneapolis, here, and evolved to the Minnesota Melee, here.  Let’s revisit the state of PSL in the North Star State.

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul each passed a Sick and Safe Time Ordinance about a year ago, each to be effective on July 1, 2017.
  • A cadre of business interests sued to enjoin the Minneapolis law.
  • In January 2017, a Hennepin County District Court judge declined to enjoin the Ordinance with regard to businesses within the geographic boundaries of Minneapolis but enjoined its enforcement with regard to businesses outside of those boundaries.
  • Each side appealed, We are awaiting a decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments on the appeal on July 11.
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul have implemented their ordinances, effective July 1, with regard to employers within the city limits.
  • The Duluth Safe and Sick Time Task Force continues apace on its mission to make a recommendation to the Duluth City Council later this year.
  •  Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill passed by the Minnesota legislature which would have preempted municipalities from enacting a sick leave law, among other employment regulations.  It would also have negated the Minneapolis and St. Paul Sick and Safe Time ordinances.minnesota-31510_1280

In sum, the state of PSL in the North Star State is:

  • Minnesota is not a preemption state.
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul PSL ordinances are partially in effect, but a judicial cloud hangs over them.
  • The judicial outcome likely dictates Duluth’s PSL future.


Oregon Scheduling Law May Increase Cost of Providing Paid Sick Leave

Oregon will likely became the first state to pass a predictable scheduling law. The bill has been sent to Governor Kate Brown, who is expected to sign it. The law would be effective July 1, 2018.

Predictable leave laws add to an employer’s challenge to deal with leave under paid sick leave laws. Let’s assume an employee gives the employer three days’ notice of the need to use a PSL day. The employer could either have another employee work the hours of the employee using PSL or, if appropriate, use a temporary employee. If the employer does neither, the co-workers of the absent employee will simply need to work faster or harder.


Under the Oregon scheduling law, if an employer requires an employee to work additional hours with less than seven days’ notice (14 days effective July 1, 2020), the employer must pay the employee one hour of compensation as a penalty, sometimes called “predictability pay.” The law purports to have an exception to address an “unexpected employee absence” but the exception seems inadequate.

The exception begins with the employer’s “voluntary standby list” (VSL), which an employer may, but need not, maintain. Employees wishing to work additional hours may sign the list. If an employer needs to fill additional hours due to an unexpected employee absence, the employee must first offer the additional hours to those on the VSL but cannot require them to work the additional hours.  An employee’s signing the VSL seems to be merely an indication that if asked to work additional hours, the employee might be interested.  If someone from the VSL works the additional hours, no predictability pay is due.

  Continue reading

Paid Sick Leave Eyes on Rhode Island

The eyes of the paid-sick-leave world will be on Rhode Island this week. Yes, more municipalities will opt out of the Cook County Earned Sick Leave law during their last week to do so. But Rhode Island legislators have this week only to pass a PSL law and put an end to the wait for “State Number Eight” and to claim that title for itself.  Since no other state legislature is likely to enact a PSL in 2017, Rhode Island is the last possibility. The Ocean State’s legislative session ends Friday, June 30.

Both of Rhode Island’s neighbors–Connecticut and Massachusetts–as well as Arizona, California, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have a paid sick leave law.

The legislative sausage-making has been in high gear to try to reach a compromise on a PSL bill. The Senate bill reported out of the Labor Committee would require employers with at least eleven employees to allow employees to accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked to a maximum of 32 hours in 2018 and 40 annually after that. The law would be effective January 1, 2018.

Sausage Making 2Kudos to the drafters for including specific provisions concerning employee abuse of paid sick leave. I had posted some time ago that this topic gets far too little legislative ink, and that if legislators wanted to draw more support from the business community, they need to acknowledge what everyone knows–some percent of employees abuse sick time and a PSL law is a powerful tool to give those abusers. The Senate bill says that: Continue reading

Cook County Nix Flurry as the End Nears

Come Alsip and Bridgeview and Burbank and Bellwood.

Come Hillside and Justice and River Grove and Homewood.

Come Orland Park and Palos Heights and Maywood.NIX

Welcome these Cook County municipalities to my nix list, those that have opted out of the county Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.  My list is now 45 municipalities long, which is approximately one-third of the municipalities within Cook County.

I posted last week that opting out of the county ordinance will be ending soon because the ordinance becomes effective July 1, 2017.  I continue to watch a handful of municipalities which will be voting soon on whether to opt out. I am also researching a few other municipalities which, supposedly have opted out, but I have been unable to confirm that they had, in fact, done so.  (If any readers know of any others, please let me know.) I speculate that come July 1, 2017, between fifty and fifty-five municipalities will have opted out of the county sick leave law.

I have listed the Cook County nix list on the PSL Laws and Resources page of my blog, just below the link to the Cook County Ordinance.

Cook County enacted the ESL Ordinance in October 2016. Generally, it requires covered employers to allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. My posts about that Ordinance are here and here.

Labor Contract Enigma in Westchester County Paid Sick Leave Bill

Westchester County legislators and union officials this week held a press conference to introduce a bill that would allow employees of employers in the County to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave annually.

The enigma is that it does not guarantee any sick days to employees covered by a labor contract.  Section 700.49 states that, in their labor contract, employers and unions in the grocery and constructions industries can waive the benefits and protections of the bill. Having a sick deli worker slicing your liverwurst or a sick cashier touching your groceries is no different than the fast food worker offering “flu with your fries?”

retro-1291745_1920For industries other than grocery and construction, Section 700.49 allows employers and unions to waive the PSL law in their labor contract if they include “a comparable benefit.” A “comparable benefit” includes premium pay on holidays and Sundays as well as vacation time, personal time and sick time.

Is “premium rates on holidays and Sundays” “comparable” to PSL?  One has nothing to do with the other. To state the obvious, premium pay is not time off from work. Having premium pay in a labor contract still leaves the sick employee having to choose between coming to work ill and a paycheck. In fact, premium pay may give a sick employee the incentive to come to work, which is the opposite of what a PSL law should do.

Also, just because a labor contract has premium pay for holidays and Sundays, and nearly all of them do, does not mean that the employee will ever have the opportunity to work on those premium pay days. In that case, the employee loses on both fronts–no sick days and no premium pay.

Why the linguistic gymnastics to deny bargaining unit employees paid sick days? It is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill. I have posted this entreaty before: help me understand.