In Rhode Island, Close, But No Paid Sick Leave Law

Rhode Island came close, very close, to becoming State Number Eight to enact a paid sick leave law, but it came up short. Both the Rhode Island Senate and House passed PSL bills but the bills had some differences and needed to be reconciled. The clock ran out on the regular legislative session before reconciliation occurred. The regular session ended last Friday, June 30.

However, it would be premature to conclude that PSL is dead in Rhode Island this year. The regular legislative session ended without the adoption of a budget. At some point, it is likely that the legislature will meet to deal with the budget issue. Once the legislature convenes, anything is possible, including action on some or all of the numerous bills that were pending at the end of the regular session.

As we enter the second half of 2017, no state has passed a PSL law yet this year. The most recent state PSL laws were passed through voter initiatives in November 2016, in Arizona and Washington. As I have speculated, any time voters are asked whether they would like paid time off from work, they will approve that ballot initiative. If my speculation is correct, ballot initiatives are likely to be more effective than legislative action to reach State Number Eight and beyond.

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

Nietzsche and Paid Sick Leave

Writing about PSL bills being introduced in legislatures reminds me of the 19th century Prussian philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s cosmological doctrine of eternal recurrence: everything will repeat and recur, forever. Think Groundhog Day.

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PSL bills are introduced regularly, sometimes for the second, third or fourth time. Proponents espouse passionately some version of the mantra that an employee should not have to choose between his or her health or family’s health and a paycheck. Opponents argue as passionately that imposing a PSL requirement will lead to job loss, business closures and hurt the very people PSL was intended to help. Advocacy groups do PSL impact studies. Not surprisingly, the study outcomes always support the advocacy group’s position on PSL. And on and on it goes.

With a hat tip to Nietzsche, at least nine PSL bills have been introduced recently in state legislatures. I have already reported here and here on PSL bills in Alaska, Indiana, Maryland and Nevada. Bills have also been introduced in Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Some bill sponsors, those in “trifecta” Republican states especially, must know that their bills have little chance of being enacted but that does not seem to deter them. There is always next session. Eternal recurrence.

In Michigan, Senate Bill No. 212, the “paid sick leave” act, would require all employers other than the federal government, effective January 1, 2018, to allow employees to accrue PSL at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, to a maximum of 40 hours for employees of employers with fewer than ten employees, and 72 hours for employees of employers with at least ten employees. Continue reading

Let the 2017 State Paid Sick Leave Wrangling Begin!

With a new calendar year comes a new legislative session, which brings new political wrangling about paid sick leave. Three states are in the PSL headlines: Maryland, Rhode Island and Alaska.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, House Bill 1, was introduced on January 11, 2017. The bill’s introduction seems to be a rejection of the compromise bill Governor Larry Hogan intends to introduce, or perhaps it is merely an opening gambit. HB1 provides broader rights to employees than the governor’s proposal. It would require employers with at least 15 employees to allow employees to accrue up to 56 hours of paid time per year for sick and safe leave. The governor’s proposal would require employers with 50 or more employees to allow employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid time annually.

In Rhode Island, more than 20 House Democrats have publicly declared their support for the “Fair Shot Agenda,” a four-part legislative package which includes paid sick days and an increase in the minimum wage, according to reports. The paid sick leave bill has not yet been introduced.wrestling-clipart-shirtail-2

Alaska will consider a paid sick leave bill for the third time. House Bill No. 30 was filed on January 9, 2017. Beginning October 1, 2017, it would require employers with at least 15 employees to allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Which of these states is likely to be the eighth PSL state? As I noted in Blue States, Red States and Paid Sick Leave Laws, six of the seven current PSL states were blue in the November election. Three—CA, MA, VT—were deep blue, giving Secretary Hillary Clinton more than 60% of the vote.

Last November, Maryland was deep blue (60% for Secretary Clinton); Rhode Island was blue (55% for Secretary Clinton); Alaska was red (51% for President-elect Donald Trump). Political prognostication is always risky, often wrong, as we learned in 2016, and beyond the scope of this blog. But let’s do an over/under anyway. Continue reading