Should every Michigan business be required to offer paid sick days?

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LANSING, Mich. -- For roughly 1.5 million workers currently in the state, taking a paid sick day off from work isn't an option.

A package of bills from both Senate and House Democrats would mandate employers to provide earned paid sick days to every employee. A coalition of several different Michigan groups is pushing lawmakers on the issue this week. The coalition includes Mothering Justice, the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, and Our Kitchen Table, among others.

If passed, employers would be required to offer one hour of earned time off for every 30 hours worked. For an average employee working 40 hours a week, that would come to about eight paid sick days off per year. The mandate would apply to both part time and full time workers.

Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts already have statewide paid sick time laws in place, while several cities across the U.S. have similar requirements.

Jeff Lobdell, president of Restaurant Partners Inc. which owns several Grand Rapids-area eateries, including the Beltline Bar, Sundance Grill and Bar, and the Omelette Shoppe, argues the move could hamper business growth in the state. “The businesses in Michigan have really improved in the last several years, and I think if you add more onerous things, it’s going to be difficult for us to attract new businesses, new restaurants, new shopping malls, new factories," Lobdell said.

Lobdell, a former Michigan Restaurant Association board member, echoed the group's sentiments sentiments, saying a one-size-fits-all approach isn't the answer, and such decisions should be left up to individual businesses. At his restaurants, Lobdell said, he offers his managers paid time off and maternity and paternity leave by choice.

“If they’re forced to have that burden, that might send them out of business, and I’d hate to see that happen," Lobdell said, "We add benefits, increased pay, and do things for our staff as we can afford to do so.”

Supporters of the mandate point to recent polling data that shows 86 percent of voters in Michigan  support paid sick days for employees.

"Your most important asset is the people who are working for you," said Stelle Slootmaker, with Our Kitchen Table, a non-profit Grand Rapids-based organization. "Take good care of them, and I think good things are going to happen to your business.”

Slootmaker said sick workers on the job cost employers $160 billion in lost productivity, adding that working mothers who have to care for their own sick children are at the greatest disadvantage without a mandate.

“Typically the jobs without paid sick days are the lower level jobs where these are folks not making a ton of money anyway and they’re doing their best to get by," she said. “They have to leave sick children home alone, if we can give them a little support as they’re working so hard we’re all for that.”

Democratic state lawmakers have set up a website called MichiganCares, where they're encouraging people to log on and submit their stories and opinions on the issue of paid sick days, among other topics.

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16 comments

    • healthywestdetroit

      To me its a stand against the employers who are abusing the people. lts in the interest of community health that their wage slaves aren’t handling our food while sick. Most of the Beltline Bar’s employees make $2.15 per hour with no financial security. His manager apparently gets some vacation time, but it isn’t the manager that’s handling your food while they’re sick so that they can make rent.

      • K

        Waiters and waitress’s use to not have to declare tips. But then the Goverment decide they need to. Do you really want the Goverment involved in everything? It will always backfire on you.

  • Tammy

    I do think all companies should offer paid sick time, however I think this is a bit excessive. Why would someone need 8 paid sick days? People already abuse FMLA. This will be the next thing abused. People will start taking that time off due to “sick of work” and then when they really are sick or the kids are sick they won’t have time left and then they will be whining that they need more time. How about three paid sick days? And why are parents leaving sick children home alone? Its called a babysitter.

    • T.C.

      My kids aren’t allowed at daycare or school until they have a doctors note saying they have been fever/illness free for hours and I don’t know any babysitters who come to your house during work hours at all anymore unless you can afford an Au Pair or a Nanny let alone that I can’t imagine what it would cost to hire someone to get sick and clean up your kids sick mess. We pay our Daycare 10.50 an hour per child and that is when they are healthy. I really don’t know what daycare costs other people. My husband and I have good jobs and we probably use four sick days between the two of us a year on the kids illnesses alone, I can’t imagine what we would do if we had no sick days.

  • Lynne

    Many businesses required for FMLA, but even that is not paid time off. One of the things I remember clearly when my husband worked in the food industry, was that if an employee was so ill they were vomiting or coughing etc they were told to take a sick day but it would not be paid. The company mandated a sick day for however long the flu or gastroentoritis (misspelled I’m sure) lasted. For some people the lose of one person working could have devastating effects on bills etc. I for one felt better knowing that people handling food were not ill like that, however many did not take the day off because they couldn’t afford to. I believe in competition etc. but if my waitress or food handler or cashier is sick I don’t want to be around that. If Employers aren’t going to do it of their own accord, for the health of the community, the food you eat etc then someone has to do something so families are not hurting. Some things do not have to be Democrat or Republican, but make good common sense

  • Evilbusinessman

    If employers are forced to pay sick leave, the end result will be paying higher prices for whatever services or products cost. If you don’t want sick people handling your food then the meals going to cost you more! Don’t eat out, then the groceries will cost more.

  • Tara

    For some of us hard working parents it would be a blessing. It has been a nightmare to find a last minute babysitter, especially when my backup has an emergency. Which leaves me no choice, but to call into work. I can’t afford to not get paid, especially when its out of my control. I have to use my personal days and vacation time just to get paid. Then I still get a point, that could eventually lead up to me getting fired. This would help so many hard working parents, that are trying so hard to put food on their tables. I’m sure unfortunately some will abuse this, but the only time I call in is for my children, not myself.

  • healthywestdetroit

    This law would really make a difference for regular people, and bring some financial stability to low income homes. (most people in this state are low income) The owner of the Beltline Bar is not an expert on economics. If it matters, and I think it does, the Beltline regularly serves terrible low quality food that gives customers food poisoning regularly. I have never been sicker then the day I tried their “famous burrito.” This may be related to his unreasonable beliefs on sick leave for his employees who are working for $2.15 an hour.

  • jane doe

    Heck yea! Use em and abuse em! Maybe companies would get rid of their point system then. FMLA is a joke, they can’t send you the right paperwork so you are penalized by losing your job! Know from expierience. If I’d had sick days (even if they weren’t paid) I’d still have my job.

  • Frederick Lawrence Byers

    Whether this happens to be a political thing or not, does it matter? Sure, this is another thing that shall be abused by many. What thing like this isn’t? FMLA is a perfect example of such a thing. If you are able to get a doctor or any professional to corroborate something for you, it’s done. All they are looking at is what they can make. I believe that this would be very beneficial for most working people. In a time of real need, it would help to alieve the thought of, “I can’t miss a day of work, I can’t afford it.” In the food service industry, I would much rather have a good feeling that my waiter or waitress is not sick while serving me or anybody else. In flu season, especially, being exposed to viral infection can be detrimental to the population at large. then how many people are effected and end up missing work?