May 21, 2018
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Smaller firms exempt in new sick days bill

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Proponents of legislation that would require employers to offer workers paid sick days have amended the bill to exempt smaller businesses and to reduce the number of sick days employees can earn each year.

But the fate of the bill remains unclear in the face of strong opposition from the business community and some lawmakers. Members of the Legislature’s Labor Committee are expected to vote on the measure, LD 1665, this Thursday.

As originally introduced, the bill would have required businesses with 25 or more employees to offer one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, or up to six days a year. Smaller businesses would be required to offer up to three days of paid sick leave annually.

Under amendments presented to the Labor Committee on Monday, the bill would only apply to businesses with 50 or more employees. Additionally, employees would earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 80 hours of work rather than the original proposal of one hour for every 40 hours.

Finally, employees would only become eligible to earn paid sick days after being on the payroll for 180 days. That change is intended to eliminate most seasonal workers in response to concerns raised from the tourism industry.

Committee members began debating the bill Monday, revealing stark differences of opinion among the lawmakers. But the committee delayed a vote until Thursday at the request of Rep. Herbie Clark, D-Millinocket, in order to hear the Maine Department of Labor’s position on the amended bill.

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