Proposed Earned Sick Time Act May Appear on Ballot in November

In Media Mentions by Chris Kessel

Raise Michigan, a coalition of civil rights, faith, labor and community groups, works to raise Michigan’s wage, yes, but the organization has recently taken up another endeavor:

To fight for the Earned Sick Time Act in Michigan

Earlier this month, the Board of State Canvassers approved ballot wording submitted by the group, meant for the creation of new legislation, the Earned Sick Time Act, which would grant full- and part-time employees of Michigan businesses one hour of sick time per every 30 hours worked. Employees of larger businesses would have the opportunity to use as many as 72 hours of paid sick time each year, while small business employees could take up to 40 hours.

“More than 1.5 million Michigan workers are not able to take earned sick time when they are ill or when they need to take care of loved ones,” Mothering Justice says on its website. “Even more appalling, many workers are afraid to mention to their employer that they are injured or sick due to fear of being fired — it does not have to be this way.”

The group hopes to collect the more than 250,000 signatures required to send the proposed legislation direct to the state Legislature, but in the event that lawmakers reject the initiative or fail to act, Michiganders will be asked to vote YES / NO in November. (Lawmakers recently passed legislation that prohibits local governments from enacting their own laws to this effect, so paid sick time can only be mandated in Michigan through statewide legislation.)

Not everyone in the state is excited about the possibility of the Earned Sick Time Act, however. When asked, Michigan director of the National Federation of Independent Business Charlie Owens said, “It’s death by 1000 cuts.” Small businesses just don’t have the flexibility to accommodate requirements like these, he claims, and that any such law would benefit large chain stores to the detriment of small business owners.

What do you think about the proposed Earned Sick Time Act?