House Clears Its Version Of Paid Sick Days Bill

Jun 30, 2017

The House cleared its version of a paid sick time bill in a 55-14 vote Thursday. The legislation has some key differences with the Senate’s version of the bill.

The House version of the proposal requires businesses with more than 18 employees to provide the benefit in a three-year phase in.

Employees would be able to receive three paid sick days in 2018, four in 2019, and five in 2020. Although not required to provide compensation, business with fewer than 17 employees would still be required to protect employees’ jobs if they’re out sick.

Rhode Island State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business Christopher Carlozzi expressed disappointment following the passage of the House bill.

“First a minimum wage hike, now paid leave,” Carlozzi said in a statement. “It should come as no shock to legislators when Rhode Island finds itself at the bottom of the business friendliness lists yet again.”

Georgia Hollister Isman is the director of the progressive labor-backed advocacy group, the Rhode Island Working Families Party, a major supporter of the measure. She disagrees with the argument that paid sick time will be detrimental to economic growth.

“Frankly I think a lot of those concerns have been proven in other places that have passed similar laws just not to bear out, in actuality, once it’s implemented,” Hollister Isman said. “Businesses tend to be happy with it. They see some costs for sure, but benefits outweigh those costs.”

A compromise between small businesses, advocates, and lawmakers that would require private sector employers to provide at least four paid sick days cleared the Senate Wednesday in a 27-8 vote.

The Senate’s bill was the result of a back and forth between small-business owners and workers’ advocates.

The scaled-back proposal, exempts businesses with fewer than 11 employees from having to pay for sick days. It also exempts independent contractors and interns.

Down from the seven days advocates for paid sick leave wanted, the bill would allow employees to claim four days of paid leave starting 2018. In 2019, the number of days would go up to five, a number similar to what states like Massachusetts and Connecticut offer.

The Senate and House will have to reconcile their bills before they can head to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s desk.