Upcoming Sick Leave Bill

bbtowingVERMONT- H. 187 is a bill currently being reviewed by the Senate that would give any employee a minimum mandatory number of hours of paid sick time. Furthermore, it would prohibit employers from penalizing those who use this time. The purpose of the act is the promotion of healthy work environments, according to legislators.

The Lyndon Chamber of Commerce has yet to take an official position on the bill according to Secretary Cheryl McMahon.

“I cannot speak for the entire Chamber, but the bill is sure to affect small businesses.” said McMahon.

But thats not all it would affect, said Robert Montminy of B&B Towing and Recovery.

“With the talk of increasing minimum wage and mandating sick leave this will cause the cost of products and services to rise in order to pay for the benefits.” Montminy said in a written statement.

B&B has a branch in the Lyndon and Saint Johnsbury area. As a smaller business itself, Montminy does the math on how much the bill would cost them.

“A company with 10 employees each getting 40 hours of sick time making $10.00 per hour is an added annual cost of $4000.00, not including payroll taxes and insurance. $4000.00 to any small Vermont business is a big impact to just absorb, in the end the consumer ends up paying.” said Montminy.

The bill will actually be beneficial to businesses, says Democratic Representative Chip Troiano, a sponsor of the bill.

"It's my opinion that we all want businesses to thrive in Vermont, and it doesn't do it on it's own. The employees have a major role in the success of a business, and a content employee is a good employee. So I think that providing benefits such as this are twofold. One, that it creates a good and more dedicated employee, and in many businesses and employers it's a health issue in the respect that people who come to work sick tend to spread their sickness around to other employees." Troiano said. He cites the food service industry as an example of how a sick employee could potentially spread their illness.

Montminy understands the need for sick time but questions the legitimacy of how it will be used.

“Everyone gets sick or needs to take care of personal matters. Security at the end of the week, knowing that they will be getting a check to put food on the table for their families is a comforting feeling and not one they need to worry about. However, can or will it be abused by employees? Time will tell! But with a push for minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and paid sick leave, this will definitely impact all!” said Montminy

Over 60,000 people working in Vermont do not have access to paid sick leave, according to the 2013 Fringe Benefits study by the Vermont Department of Labor. 

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in April of last year, and has been given to the Senate. Though the Senate has been discussing the bill since Tuesday, it is unknown when a final decision will be made on the bill.