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State Policy Update - October 6

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California: Here is an updated (as of October 2017) California State & Local Paid Sick Leave Chart. It summarizes the Paid Sick Leave laws for California and the eight cities that have their own rules (LA, SF, San Diego, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Emeryville).

The city of Berkeley is holding a town hall Sept. 30 to discuss a paid family leave proposal that would mandate 100% wage coverage for six weeks for employees to care for a new child or sick family member.

New Hampshire: A bipartisan paid leave bill passed 5-0 out of a house subcommittee and moves to the full committee for consideration. The bill, as currently constructed, would establish a paid leave program financed by a 0.5% payroll tax on employees. It would provide up to twelve weeks of paid leave, parental or sick time off, per year at 60% of the employee’s current salary. Right now, the bill creates a program employees can’t opt-out of. Discussion by lawmakers will likely center around whether or not to allow employees to do so. Experts say it’s imperative that the program, which will have to be self-funded, have high rates of participation in order to be sustainable. The full committee will have to report out on the bill by Nov. 16 in order for the bill to come before the House at the beginning of the session.

New Mexico: After several failed attempts by the Albuquerque business community to remove an initiative to mandate paid sick leave for all employees in the city, voters will head to the polls to vote on the measure. Several health care professionals and other supporters of the proposed Healthy Workforce Ordinance held a news conference at First Choice South Broadway Medical Center to advocate for the paid sick leave measure that voters will decide on Oct. 3. If approved, the ordinance would require employers to provide paid sick time to full-time, part-time and temporary workers at any business with a physical presence in Albuquerque. Opponents argue that the ordinance would hurt businesses, because of higher costs and what they call onerous record-keeping requirements.

Rhode Island: Bloomberg news reports, “Employers in Rhode Island must provide workers with three days of paid sick leave a year starting July 1, under a bill signed into law Sept. 28. The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act requires employers with 18 or more workers to provide three days of paid sick leave a year. Smaller employers will have to provide the same amount of leave, but that can be unpaid time. The legislation says those companies will have to provide the time off “without adverse consequences” to employees. The number of paid sick days will increase to four in 2019 and give on Jan. 1, 2020. The legislation covers employees who are sick, need to go to a medical appointment, or are caring for a sick child or relative. It also covers workers who are victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or who are helping a family member deal with such a situation. The bill also allows employees to take paid sick days when their workplace is closed due to a public health emergency. Fines for violating the law range from $100 to $500 per day, which is similar to the penalties for violating the state's minimum wage law. Rhode Island joins seven other states and the District of Columbia in offering paid sick days. Neighboring Connecticut passed the first paid sick leave bill in 2011, according to Bloomberg Law. The other states with paid sick leave laws are Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, whose law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Washington: Tacoma city passed a law to bring its existing paid leave regulations in line with the state standard passed earlier this year. The city elected to maintain it's unique enforcement provisions which allow agencies to investigate employer-wide practices when a single employee brings a complaint as opposed to limiting the investigation to the single case. A study by city staff of the first 18 months following enactment found that the city recovered $169,000 in leave and wages for 595 workers, stemming from just 20 employee complaints. City officials are encouraging the state to apply similar enforcement provisions statewide.


Maryland: Montgomery county council held a public hearing Sept. 26 on the recently introduced $15/hr minimum wage bill. A similar bill was vetoed earlier this year by County Executive Ike Leggett, with a veto override failing by a single vote. The county executive has publicly offered to negotiate on specific aspects of the current bill, indicating that the issue may have more support than it did earlier this year. The bill also includes a provision allowing the county executive to cancel planned increases in case of an economic downturn and would tie future increases after 2022 to the consumer price index for urban workers. The bill will likely head to a vote in late October or early November.

Illinois: For the second time in a year, the Calumet city council chose to opt out of Cook County’s $13/hr minimum wage requirement. The mayor requested that the council revisit the issue on the heels of an April nonbinding $15/hr. ballot measure that earned over 80% support from local voters. In June, the city council bucked its voters' wishes and opted out of the county's more modest minimum wage hike, which incrementally raises the minimum wage to $13 by July 2020. Amid continued pressure from activists, however, the city opted to reconsider the issue Thursday at the request of Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush.

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