House Introduces New HEALTHY WORKPLACES Bill

Main Street Alliance of VT endorses new Healthy Workplaces legislation introduced to the Vermont House
Montpelier, VT – Thursday morning, February 5th, supporters gathered in the State House to endorse the new Healthy Workplaces legislation that will be introduced to the House by Representative Tristan Toleno.   The bill is a revitalized response to previous Earned Sick Days proposals, including S.15 introduced in the Senate earlier this year.  Notably, Senate sponsor Philip Baruth and several other Senators stood with Representative Toleno in support of this new bill.
Rep. Toleno said, “I am very proud to have helped to craft a fresh start to this effort.  This is a new common ground and common sense proposal that addresses the fundamental concerns of my fellow small business owners while also accomplishing three important objectives for all Vermonters.”
Toleno outlined the following three points:
  1. This  bill will establish a general standard of paid leave that all people may earn.  It is still true that if an employer wants to provide only sick leave, they may: that is at the employers' choice.
  2. The bill establishes a 500 hour waiting period before new employees have access to the benefit, the equivalent of three months of full time work.
  3. This new approach both phases in and reduces the paid leave standard.  Employees will be able to earn and access up to three days per year for the first two years of the law.  After two years, employees may earn and access up to five days per year.
The Vermont Earned Sick Days Coalition enthusiastically endorsed this fresh start in the move to provide a minimum standard of earned sick time for all Vermonters.  Campaign Director Michelle Fay spoke to the support that this new approach has garnered in the small business community statewide.  “After extensive outreach to the business community - including chambers, associations, and individual businesses, we have identified a common ground that addresses the most frequently articulated concerns of business owners while still achieving the fundamental objectives of the coalition.”
Caleb Magoon, owner of Power Play sports, a small sporting goods retail store in Morrisville, offered his support. “Last year, I was unable to support the Earned Sick Days bill,” Magoon explained.  “But I’m here today to support and endorse this new Healthy Workplaces Bill.”  Referencing an extensive business engagement process in which Magoon participated, he said, “I could not support a bill that didn’t provide a waiting period before paid leave would be available to a new worker. This new bill addresses that.  It also establishes a gradual phase in while still ensuring that workers can manage routine day to day health needs.  The minimum standard is low enough that it won't prevent employers who wish to use more generous policies to recruit and retain employees.  It strikes a balance that I can stand behind.”
Senator Philip Baruth wrapped up the discussion by emphasizing the human impact of this legislation.  “Currently around 60,000 Vermonters don’t have access to any earned time whatsoever.  These Vermonters are single mothers, minimum wage earners, and people working hard to support their families.  These days, both adults in most households have to work, and everyone pitches in to manage the health and safety of their families.”
Baruth concluded his remarks with a call to urgency.  “We have already held two hearing in the Senate on this important issue, and I am excited to see the House begin work on a companion bill.  I urge the House to pass this bill.  For many hardworking Vermonters, waiting another year is just not an option.”

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