Paid sick leave bill back on the table

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FLINT (WJRT) - (3/1/17) - Being sick is tough enough, but having to worry about your job status while you are recovering or helping a family member recover, is stressful, too.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) wants to implement a law about paid sick time. A similar push in the last legislative session failed, but that didn't stop him and co-sponsors Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) from reintroducing the bill Wednesday.

Ananich says that there is more bipartisan support for paid sick leave than previously. With President Trump briefly touching on paid family leave in his address Tuesday, Ananich believes more people will see this as a non-partisan issue.

He also says, like with the minimum wage increases, enacting a paid sick leave law may take multiple introductions and mounting public pressure to finally get approval.

Michigan has no earned sick leave law, although many businesses voluntarily provide it.

Senator Ananich's bill proposes that every business would be required to give earned sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.

A press release from the senator's office reads, "According to a 2016 analysis done by the Michigan League for Public Policy, more than 1.7 million Michigan workers — about 44 percent — cannot take time of if they or a family member are ill."

For small businesses the minimum threshold will be 40 paid sick hours per year, and for larger businesses a minimum threshold of 70 paid sick hours per year.

Workers in a handful of states and Washington, D.C. have sick leave laws. Some policy analysts, like Peter Ruark with the Michigan League for Public Policy, cite Connecticut as a model.

"Business groups in Connecticut had strongly opposed their earned sick leave law. 40% of employers were supportive of it after the law took effect, and another 37 were somewhat supportive of it," Ruark said.

He continued, "Michigan residents are on the side of earned sick leave. There was a couple of years ago that showed -- get this -- showed that 86% of Michigan voters agree that Michigan workers should be able to earn sick days."

The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce told me they had not seen Senator Jim Ananich's bill but would continue to monitor it. So are workers who want to see the bill pass.

"If you're just a single-parent family, household like I am, if I get sick, then what happens to the household income as far as my family is concerned," Karen Dixon said.

The next step is to request a hearing for the legislation. You should contact your state senators and representatives if you want to give your opinion about the bill.

This is part of a national effort in 30 other states, called the #FightingForFamilies week of action.

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