Matt Birong, owner of 3 Squares Cafe in Vergennes testifies before committee in support of H.187, the Healthy Workplaces bill
On Wednesday, February 3, The Vermont State Senate gave approval to the Healthy Workplaces bill (H.187) with a strong bi-partisan vote of 21-8.
The approval came after several amendments were made by the Senate Committee on Economic Development that had jurisdiction of the bill and five successful floor amendments that received signals of support from the Economic Development Committee. Key amendments included a one-year grace period for new businesses, an exclusion for part-time workers that work fewer than 18 hours per week, and one year delayed implementation for businesses that employ five or fewer employees working 30 hours or more per week. The bill also excludes any persons under the age of 18.
Other floor amendments not supported by the committee were defeated, including the Campion amendment, an attempt to exempt businesses with five and fewer employees that was defeated by a single vote –providing universal adoption of the law across businesses of all sizes.
“We appreciate all the work that the Senate did on this bill – and feel that a reasonable compromise has been struck,” says Lindsay DesLauriers, State Director of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “We were particularly pleased that the Senate did not adopt an exclusion by business size as we hear again and again from business owners around the state that a standard of earned leave should apply to all businesses equally. Paid leave should be a workplace standard like the minimum wage and this bill accomplishes that.”
“This bill represents years of work and compromise to achieve a balanced bill. I’m pleased with the result and proud of the work that so many business owners on our coalitions did to ensure such a positive outcome,” says Main Street Alliance of Vermont Board chair and COO at White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors, Stephanie Hainley.
"I think this bill is one of the best examples I've seen of really working hard to figure out how to find the right balance for employers and employees,” says Matt Birong, owner of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes. “I applaud all the work that has gone into this."
Stephanie and Matt 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 member businesses in testifying in support of the bill in Montpelier in the weeks leading up to the Senate vote.
The amended legislation will now to back to the House for a vote before reaching the Governor's desk. Last year, the original bill passed the house 72-63. Their decision on the amended bill is expected in the coming weeks.