Family Values @ Work

Businesses split on paid sick days bill

March 30, 2012

March 27, 2012

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Workers advocates are urging Massachusetts lawmakers to advance legislation that would give employees up to seven earned sick days a year. They say about one third of the state’s workforce – that’s one million people – go without the benefit of earning any sick time.

“They risk spreading other germs to co-workers and our customers and members who come into our organization, which is why we believe offering this to our employees,” said New England United for Justice Executive Director Noemi Ramos.

Supporters, who have stood by this bill for 8 years, say momentum is building in the Legislature in their favor. But small business advocates like the Restaurant and Business Alliance say the paid sick leave bill is a job killer. They argue it will force small businesses to lose productivity, create vast amounts of paperwork to keep track of earned sick leave hours and make Massachusetts less competitive than other states.

“Small businesses in Massachusetts are in a panic that they may be forced – forced – to pay people for sick time when they can’t work,” said Phantom Gourmet CEO David Andelman. “Do you think that most small businesses can afford to pay a sick person and pay someone else to come in and do their job, you’re going to knock these companies out of business.”

But other small business owners, like Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee CEO Dean Cycon of Orange, praised the benefits of their paid sick leave policies. Cycon said the legislation is pro-business because it reduces turnovers, encourages a healthier and more productive workplace, and boosts morale.

“If Dean’s Beans can do it, Dunkin Donuts can do it, and so can every company in the Commonwealth. You got a 1000 employee company and a ten employee company, nothing in between can resist this,” said Cycon.

Currently the bill awaits further action in the Committee on Health Care Financing before it can be debated on the House floor. If the Legislature does not pass the bill by July 31 when formal session end, supporters will have to push back their hopes for paid sick leave legislation another year.