Connecticut became the first state in the country to guarantee paid sick days to all workers July 5.
Governor Dannel Malloy was a key supporter of the bill, helping it to pass the State Senate by just one vote, over the strong opposition of the many business groups, including the Connecticut Restaurant Association and the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. Malloy’s spokesperson, Colleen Flanagan, told the News that even though many people opposed the bill, it was good public policy.
“Frontline service workers…shouldn’t have to come to work sick, interact closely with patrons,” Flanagan said.
She said that the bill would be good for both Connecticut public health and low-wage workers, who wouldn’t have to choose between working while sick and forfeiting their pay. The law will allow workers to earn one hour of paid leave for every forty hours worked, to a maximum of 40 hours each year.
Citing increased costs to businesses, the Connecticut Restaurant Association listed defeating the bill as their number one legislative priority for 2011.
“Even in better economic times, not all businesses can afford the expense of paying employees who do not come to work,” a statement on the association’s website said. “This is…the reality of owning a small business.”
The new law will help many New Havenites working as busboys, school bus drivers, day care providers and home health aids, wrote Jon Green, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, in an email to the News. The WFP, a left wing third party, was one of the main proponents of the legislation.
All chain restaurants, such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, will be affected, as well as most McDonalds, Green wrote. First Student Transportation, which provides school bus rides for New Haven schoolchildren to and from school, will also be affected.
The bill covers only businesses with over 50 employees, and YMCA’s and manufacturers are exempt.
Green hailed the bill as “common sense and common decency.”
The bill passed 18-17 in the State Senate and 76-65 in the State Assembly.