01 April 2013

Bill prevents Michigan governments from requiring employers to provide paid sick leave

Story originally appeared on Freep.

LANSING -- Michigan cities could not require employers to provide paid sick leave under a bill approved Thursday by a Senate committee.

In a 4-1 vote, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee advanced a bill to ban local governments from requiring employers to provide paid or unpaid leave not required by state or federal law.

A similar bill was earlier approved by a House committee. Each will now be considered by the full Senate and House, respectively.

The bill is backed by business groups, such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, who say such employment matters should be regulated at the state or federal level to prevent a patchwork of laws across a state.

It's opposed by some labor groups and Mothering Justice, a group based in the Detroit area that seeks to empower moms and influence public policy on their behalf.

Danielle Atkinson, a founding director of the group, said providing paid sick leave is a public health issue, which locals should be able to regulate to prevent people in the food service industry from going to work sick. Many working moms also need paid leave so they can stay home and take care of their sick children, she said.

No local government is actively considering such an ordinance, but Mothering Justice would like to approach local units and encourage them to pass such ordinances, she said.

A poll the group commissioned suggests 60% of Michigan residents support allowing workers to earn paid sick days. But respondents weren't asked whether they favor allowing local governments to require such benefits.

Justin Winslow, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Restaurant Association, told the committee that ordinances requiring extra employee leave have passed in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle and put restaurants there at a competitive disadvantage.

Six states, most recently Indiana, have passed bills to prevent such local ordinances, he said.

"Employers can provide these options ... to all their employees as they see fit," said Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton.

The Michigan Municipal League opposes the legislation because it violates local control, spokesman Matt Bach said.

Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, said the bill is "horrible" and "unnecessary."

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