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December 05, 2006
A Push for Paid Sick Leave

Several groups are trying to build support for state and federal legislation that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, the New York Times reports.

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The National Partnership for Women and Families has listed paid sick leave as one of its top priorities over the next two years with Democrats in control of Congress. Other groups supporting paid sick leave are Acorn and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the newspaper reports.

Senator Ted Kennedy has offered a proposal that would require employers to provide at least 7 days of paid sick leave to employees. He says that support for a law requiring paid sick leave is on the rise.

"It has a wildfire of support across the country," Kennedy tells the newspaper. "When you talk to workers, this is, besides an increase in the minimum wage, the most important issue for these families. This is a families issue. This is a values issue."

Business groups oppose a requirement for employers to offer paid sick leave, arguing that it will hurt the economy.

"Supporters of legislation like this complain about unfunded mandates in education when it comes to No Child Left Behind, but they don't hesitate to impose unfunded mandates on employers," Randel Johnson of the United States Chamber of Commerce tells the newspaper. "The employer community is not going to roll over on this issue."

To be successful, supporters of a paid sick leave requirement would have to win some support from Republicans because Democrats lack the votes necessary to override a veto or to end a filibuster in the Senate.

In November, voters in San Francisco approved a measure that requires employers to give 1 hour of paid sick leave to an employee for every 30 hours worked.


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