Will Paid Sick Leave Movement Become Contagious?

By Rita Pyrillis

Jun. 22, 2015

Another proposed bill requiring employers to offer paid sick leave was reintroduced in Congress earlier this year and supporters expect a battle ahead. But the push for paid sick days is gaining momentum across the country and getting support from a powerful ally — Microsoft Corp.

In March, the tech giant announced in a company blog post that it is requiring its large suppliers to give 15 days of paid time off a year to its full-time employees.

“Like many companies in many industries in the United States, we rely on a wide variety of other companies that supply us with goods and services that reflect their core competencies,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs. “From building maintenance to management consulting and campus security to software localization, we rely on a large group of outside companies to do what they do best. The people who work for our suppliers are critical to our success, and we want them to have the benefit of paid time off.”

About a dozen states have paid leave laws under consideration, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families, which also estimates that 40 percent of private-sector workers lack paid sick days. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island already have laws on the books.

In addition, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco are among more than a dozen cities that have passed paid leave legislation, according to the advocacy group, despite employer pushback.

“Our members strongly opposed in every one of these cases,” said Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business. “It’s a real expense that some of them cannot absorb. We don’t oppose the benefits, but we oppose the government mandating that every business of every size must be required to provide paid leave. Most of our businesses have fewer than 10 employees.”

The NFIB doesn’t have an official position on Microsoft’s decision, but Mozloom said that company’s decision shows that businesses care about the issue, and those that can afford to will provide the paid leave benefits.

Rita Pyrillis is a writer based in the Chicago area.

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