Sunday, June 5, 2011

A first restaurants would prefer not to see

Lawmakers in Connecticut are close to making their state the first to mandate paid sick leave from private employers.

They approved the benefit on Saturday after what was reported to be a high-spirited 11-hour debate.

If signed into law by the governor, the measure would require every service business with more than 50 employees to grant employees one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours they log on the job.

The paid time off could be used not only for the employee’s recuperation, but also for the care of a child, spouse or parent. Qualifying employees would also be compensated for time needed to deal with sexual abuse or family violence.

The bill’s most controversial aspect is the exemption it granted to manufacturing businesses. Legislators apparently felt the state’s manufacturing sector needs all the breaks it can get to survive. A costly measure like paid sick leave could be a last straw for the few remaining manufacturers in what was once a major enclave of factories.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association had argued that restaurants couldn’t afford the expense, either. It noted that the measure would in effect double a place’s expenses for any employee who called in sick. The restaurant would have to pay the wages of that staffer and his or her replacement.

The state hosts about 600 restaurants who employ about 145,000 people, according to the CRA.

The legislation is almost certain to be signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy, who pledged to support paid sick leave during his campaign for the job.

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