Earned Paid Sick Time Benefits Workers, Businesses and Customers

Questions and Answers

What is earned paid sick time?

The earned paid sick time proposal being considered would allow employees to earn 1 hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked. Persons working for businesses with fewer than 10 employees would be able to take up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year while all other employees would be allowed to use up to 72 hours. Leave could be used to take care of an aging parent or spouse, attend to a sick child or family member, or allow an employee to recover from a physical or mental illness, domestic violence, sexual assault or other violent crime.

Who does and does not receive earned paid sick time now?

In Michigan, 47% of private sector workers, or about 1.6 million people, do not have paid sick time, forcing them to work sick or go without pay. Those who do not receive earned paid sick time are disproportionately low income with 70% of workers in the lowest paying jobs not receiving paid sick time. The lack of paid sick time also disproportionately affects people of color who are more likely to be employed in lower paying jobs and less likely to have access to paid sick leave when compared to white workers. Single mothers are also largely at risk of losing out on access to earned paid benefits.

Why isn’t the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enough?

The FMLA provides job protections for many individuals needing long term leaves; however it excludes any worker whose place of employment has fewer than 50 employees, works less than full time, or has been working at their current position for less than one year. This ultimately excludes about 40% of the workforce nationwide from FMLA benefits.

The FMLA does not require employers to provide paid leave, which often forces those who need time off to not take it for fear of financial instability. The U.S. is one of only a few countries with no national policy requiring employers to provide earned paid sick time.

Does earned paid sick time hurt businesses’ bottom line?

Without access to earned paid sick time, workers will often show up to work even when sick. This is counterproductive and costly to businesses. Research shows that offering paid sick days reduces employers’ costs by improving employee retention and lessening the costs of hiring and training new employees.

In places where earned paid sick time has been adopted it has had either positive effects or no effects on workplace productivity.

What other states have laws on earned paid sick time?

Four states, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon, have enacted laws addressing earned paid sick time, as well as 19 cities and one county across the United States, including Washington, D.C. These state laws all increase access, but coverage is not always universal. Oakland County is considering an earned paid sick time policy for county employees, and there is legislation in both the state House and Senate to implement earned paid sick time in Michigan. Out of concern that the Legislature won’t act, a statewide campaign is underway to place an earned paid sick time proposal on the ballot in Michigan.

What can I do to promote earned paid sick time in Michigan?

More information on earned paid sick time and the campaign to secure it for all Michigan workers can be found at mitimetocare.org. You can sign up to volunteer and get involved. You can also contact your state legislators and tell them to support earned paid sick time legislation in Michigan (House Bill 4167 and Senate Bill 101).