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Michigan lawmakers to consider blocking local 'paid sick leave' ordinances


A state House committee this week will discuss whether to prevent local cities and towns in Michigan from passing laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

San Francisco, Seattle and several other major cities have passed ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances in recent years.  The intent is to protect people in low paying jobs, who stand to lose their job, if they try to take a sick day.

Vicki Shabo is the director of Work and Family programs at the National Partnership for Women and Families.   The group lobbies for mandatory sick leave laws.   She says too many low wage workers are at risk of losing their jobs if they get sick.    Shabo says the burden shouldn’t be on sick workers to swap shifts or find someone else to take their shift. 

“We’ve seen over the course of history that this way that we do business here…employer-employee relationships….often have faults,” says Shabo.   And that is why 40% of the workforce doesn’t have paid sick leave right now.”

Wendy Block is with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

She says local ‘paid leave’ ordinances could create an unmanageable patchwork of rules for employers.

“If lawmakers believe that these policies are appropriate to be written into law that should happen at the state or federal level…not the local level creating that patchwork scheme and administrative nightmare,” says Block.

Block says the chamber would rather see employers and employees work out their leave issues without any government involvement. 

Michigan is one of many states that are considering blocking local ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances.   In Wisconsin, the state succeeded in blocking a ‘paid leave’ ordinance in Milwaukee.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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