By Kirk Carapezza
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce says a bill in the House that would guarantee paid sick days for Vermont workers goes too far.
If the measure were approved, workers would gain one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked up to 56 total hours – or seven days – each year.
But Jessica Gingras, the government affairs program manager with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, says many businesses in Vermont do not believe the law is necessary.
“Most of our members – just in conversation –have some type of paid time off policy,” Gingras explained. “Whether that is called paid sick leave or not is really up to the employer.”
“Our members think that this should be handled on a case-by-case, employer-by-employer basis,” Gingras said. “We have a lot of unique sectors in Vermont. We have a huge tourism industry. The time off policy in a one- or two-person shop is going to be very different from an employer with 50 employees.”
Supporters, however, say state-sanctioned paid sick days are a fundamental right for workers. Dan Barlow, a public policy manager with the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, says families are facing the possibility of debt or bankruptcy without a safety net that includes paid leave for employees.
“Family dynamics have changed, the workforce has changed over many years, but for the most part our policies and regulations really haven’t,” Barlow said.