LANSING, MI — House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday announced the re-introduction of legislation that would give Michigan employees one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they worked.
It’s an idea that’s kicked around for the past couple years in Lansing, including through a failed ballot initiative. But this time around, Democratic lawmakers are hoping Republicans will take a cue from President Donald Trump and start considering these benefits.
“I think our colleagues in the House and Senate should join us and make this a nonpartisan issue,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint.
The specific proposal Democrats are forwarding would require employers to give an employee one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It would allow workers to use this time during an illness, the illness of a close family member, or recovery from a violent crime.
Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, said a lack of paid sick leave means some people are going into work sick, potentially exposing others to their illness.
“This isn’t good for the workers and it isn’t good for the employer,” Chang said.
Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, said her daughter was seriously ill last year. Luckily, her husband’s employer let him stay home. But that’s not the case for many Michigan workers.
“It’s not good enough though just to be lucky enough to work for the right employer,” Geiss said.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65 percent of all workers nationally get paid sick leave. But that varies by industry. Just 46 percent of service workers get paid sick leave, while 89 percent of business, financial and management workers do, for example.
And while 78 percent of full-time workers get paid sick leave as a benefit, that number drops to 25 percent for part-time workers.
Christina Hayes, from Detroit, was diagnosed with Lupus at 19. She needs regular medical care to manage her disease, but was skipping medical appointments so she didn’t fall behind at work. At one point it got so bad that she left work via ambulance.
“We deserve to have our voices heard, we deserve earned paid sick time, and it’s a life or death matter,” she said at a press conference announcing the legislation.
The proposal drew praise from Progress Michigan, which had previously coordinated on the ballot issue as well.
“Policies like earned paid sick time allow everyone regardless of where they work the ability to take the time that they need to get healthy, care for loved ones, or deal with other emergencies,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.
“This legislation is a no-brainer because it would give working people more stability at work and more time with their families when they need it. It’s a step toward building a more equitable Michigan”
But House Republican spokesman Gideon D’Assandro referred to it as a mandate.
“Michigan is in the middle of an incredible recovery, with hundreds of thousands of people finding new jobs and rapid income growth. We cannot put Michigan workers at risk and cost this state jobs for a massive new political mandate,” he said.
Democrats in the House and Senate plan to introduce the bills this week.
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