Local Politics

Bill would guarantee paid sick leave

Posted February 18, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A bill introduced in the state House of Representatives on Wednesday would provide paid sick leave for the more than 1 million workers statewide who do not have it.

About 1.6 million workers in the state do not have paid sick leave, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forty-two percent of those workers are in the private sector.

Bill would guarantee paid sick leave Bill would give workers paid sick leave

The bill would guarantee all workers up to 56 hours, or seven eight-hour days, of paid sick time per year. Employers with fewer than 10 workers would have to provide up to 32 hours of paid sick time.

Workers would earn an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours' work.

Advocates with the North Carolina Justice Center say people coming to work while sick is a cost to public health.

“The folks who disproportionately lack paid sick days are the very folks who are cooking our food and serving it to us … working in hospitals and doctors' offices and in our child care centers taking care of our kids,” said NC Paid Sick Days Campaign coordinator Louisa Warren, who is also with the N.C. Justice Center.

The Justice Center is among more than 30 groups, including AARP North Carolina and ACORN North Carolina, that support the bill.

Paul Stone, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, said his group opposes the bill. The costs to provide paid sick leave to all employees would ultimately hurt businesses like restaurants and hotels, which operate on thin profit margins, particularly in these tough economic times, Stone said.

Brett McGinnis, a bartender for nearly 20 years, said he has never had a day of paid sick leave.

“You basically find somebody to cover your shift and hope that it doesn’t last for more than a couple of days,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis works at newly opened restaurant, The Flying Biscuit Café, in Raleigh, which employs about 50 people.

“We allow them to call off. We just don’t pay them,” The Flying Biscuit Café part-owner Todd Keller said.

Keller thinks the bill is a good idea but will ultimately hurt a lot of small businesses.

“Morally, yes, I would love to be able to offer my employees those kinds of benefits. It’d be great. They deserve it. But financially, I don’t think it’s possible,” Keller said.

Keller said he'd have to pass the costs on to customers by raising prices.

Advocates say offering paid sick days would benefit the employer by making employees more loyal and more productive when they have time to recover.

The proposed bill covers people in incorporated businesses.

The bill would not cover babysitters, lawn mowers or housekeepers unaffiliated with a corporation. Agricultural workers would also not be guaranteed paid sick leave.

Nurse’s aides and hospice care workers would be covered because their health directly affects the health of their patients.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • DougWare.NET Feb 19, 2009


    Where did you come up with that idea?

    What ever happened to employees just saving some of their pay for a rainy day?

  • DougWare.NET Feb 19, 2009

    working in hospitals and doctors' offices....

    Honestly, I avoid Doctor's offices and Hospitals like the plague, and it's not the sick worker behind the desk I'm concerned about. I worry much more about the little snot nosed kid sitting beside me coughing and sneezing without covering their mouth and nose. Of course, those are the same kids who have parents letting them run all over the Doctor's office and touch anything that isn't more than 4 feet high.

  • dineout Feb 19, 2009

    There are some who are saying that if you call off sick you get fired, if this is the case then why stay? I would never fire an employee for calling off sick, and even if you get sick pay employers are going to require a doctors note to return, there goes that paid day off, and besides do you really think that this bill would change that? It won't, employees are at will, which means you can leave when you want for no reason and employers can terminate without reason at anytime. If your mistreated at work then start looking for someplace that will treat you better, its still America, and we still have some choices left, for now.

  • G-man Feb 19, 2009

    So, back to my question: How did human-kind even survive before 1909? hpr641
    What ended in the generation prior to that date? We're still taking care of them, just can't get any work out of them.

  • Armando de Cabana Boy Feb 19, 2009

    MEP- You hit the nail on the head! Good post. People are explained the benefits or lack thereof during the interview process or at the job offer. You know what you are and aren't getting. We don't need Government to hold everyone's hand. Small businesses cannot/should not be made to offer the same benefits as huge corporations.

  • nufsaid Feb 19, 2009

    "Advocates say offering paid sick days would benefit the employer by making employees more loyal and more productive when they have time to recover."
    If this is true then employers that can afford it will do it without being forced by government. Many do offer sick days now.

  • hpr641 Feb 19, 2009

    How did human-kind survive before 100years ago - 1909? Before 1909, there was no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Food Stamps, Housing Assistance, S-CHIP (childrens' health insurance for the poor), free school breakfasts/lunches, unemployment benefits, mortgage assistance, a minimum wage, or Employer-sponsored health, dental, vision, STD, and LTD insurance/paid sick leave/paid vacation/unpaid family leave, and matching 401(k). EVERYONE also had to actually pay their health-care providers. Kids didn't have to be strapped down into a 5-point restraint system 'til they were 80lbs. in order to ride in a car (of course obviously, there weren't very many cars before 1909).

    So, back to my question: How did human-kind even survive before 1909?

  • nufsaid Feb 19, 2009

    Government should not be in the business of mandating this for people (businesses) that provide jobs and actually are the backbone of the economy. If people don't want to work where sick days aren't offered they have that right. They can seek out work where it is.

  • whatusay Feb 19, 2009

    Employers should deduct $.50/hr from employees pay in case they are sick. When the employee leaves that job all the money left should be paid to the employee. Some employers might split the $.50 (.25 employer/.25 employee). Either way when an employee is sick they get paid. Run out of money and you are on your own.

  • Timbo Feb 19, 2009

    Hire them as contractors and let them pay themselves sick leave.