Vermont Paid Sick Days Bill Moves to Governor's Desk

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MSA Vermont staff members and leaders celebrate a victory nearly a decade in the making. 

After the Vermont State Senate’s re-vote on the Healthy Workplaces bill (H.187), the bill landed back in the House, where it passed Wednesday with an 81-64 vote.

The legislation will require that all employees who work more than 18 hours per week can earn up to three days of paid time off in 2017 and 2018 and up to five days after that.

“It was a long road to the Governor’s desk for this bill, but the work was well worth it. It has been truly gratifying to work with so many smart and dedicated business owners and legislators who have stayed committed to passing a strong and balanced bill,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of Main Street Alliance of Vermont.

Five amendments were on the calendar, including an amendment by Alyson Eastman (I-Orwell) that would have excluded Vermont’s smallest employers from the requirements. Following committee votes finding all five amendments unfavorable, the sponsors of the amendments withdrew.

Reflecting on the amendments that were withdrawn in the House and the events in the Senate last week, Angela Earle-Gray, Human Resources Director at Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls said, “A small business exemption would have added unnecessary administrative confusion and sent the message to those working for smaller companies that they don’t deserve equal protection despite doing equal work. The House and Senate did the right thing ensuring that everyone is treated equally.”

“Offering paid sick leave to our employees has been a great investment in our employees that our business has benefitted from,” said Eliza Cain, co-owner of Red Hen Bakery and long-time advocate for the earned leave bill. “It’s great to see Vermont making the same investment in all our people.”

Angela and Eliza represented over 250 Vermont businesses that are part of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont’s Coalition in Support of Earned Leave and were joined by more than a dozen fellow business leaders in testifying in support of the bill in Montpelier in the weeks leading up to the House and Senate decisions.

The efforts of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont were shared by partners on the ground including; Voices for Vermont's Children, Family Values at Work, AARP Vermont, Vermont NEA, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.

The bill will now be delivered to the Governor’s desk to sign into law. Governor Peter Shumlin has heralded the bill as a solution that successfully strikes a balance that will work for everyone, including small business owners and employees.

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