Ohio Employers Readying for Sick-Leave Fight

By Smerd, Jeremy | Workforce Management, September 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Ohio Employers Readying for Sick-Leave Fight


Smerd, Jeremy, Workforce Management


NOVEMBER VOTE

An initiative on Ohio's November 4 ballot could make the state the first to require employers to provide paid sick leave for employees.

The Healthy Families Act would require employers with 25 or more employees to guarantee full-time workers at least seven days of paid sick leave each year. Part-time employees would receive a prorated amount of time off, which could be used to care for sick family members as well.

Employer groups oppose the measure and are gearing up for an expensive fight this fall to win over voters.

The initiative represents the first effort nationwide to take paid sick leave, which has failed to pass through previous state legislatures, directly to the electorate. Ohioans for Healthy Families, the legislation's advocacy group whose members include unions, AARP and religious groups, proposed a bill this year that also died in the Legislature.

Employers strongly oppose the proposed legislation, as they have similar efforts nationally, saying it would drive jobs away and depress wages and benefits. Melanie Elsey, legislative director for the Strongsville, Ohio-based Ohio Roundtable, which opposes the measure, says there are too many requirements. It calculates time off in as little as 15-minute increments, doesn't define what would constitute a legitimate paid sick day for mental health problems, doesn't require doctors to certify whether a person is legitimately sick, and does not provide any provision for multistate employers who may already offer sick leave.

"I think the language will encourage individuals to take paid time off at work when they are not sick and don't have a sick family member," Elsey says.

Dale Butland, communications director for Ohioans for Healthy Families, says those assertions are unfounded. …

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