Boston (WWLP) - About one million workers in Massachusetts, or about one third of private sector employees, do not get paid sick leave, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
“We have put so much stress on the middle class that people are going to work sick and there’s a huge public health issue with that,” said Sen. Dan Wolk (D-Harwich).
Senator Wolf has introduced legislation that requires companies with fewer than six employees to offer 5 days of unpaid sick leave, companies with 6 to 10 employees must offer 5 paid sick days and companies with more than 10 employees must offer 7 paid sick days.
“I say to my fellow business owners, this is an investment you should make. It will empower your workers. It will make your company more successful,” said State Treasurer Steve Grossman, who testified in favor of the bill.
But critics say the legislation is too burdensome on small businesses and that big government should keep out.
“I think that we need to provide freedom for the businesses to make those decisions,” said Rep. Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeview).
Business groups argue paid sick leave could be abused by workers and it would make Massachusetts less competitive with surrounding states.
“Yes you can mandate all you want upon our local employers, but you cannot mandate our residents to shop and spend their money locally,” said Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst.
If the paid sick leave legislation isn’t approved this year, a ballot petition is on the books that could let voters decide on the issue next November.