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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Poll finds strong support in Michigan for paid sick time

M. Kuhlman

Taking paid time off work to cope with illness is a luxury nearly half of Michigan workers cannot afford, but it's a policy many favor.

A new poll from Denno Research shows that 86 percent of Michigan voters support paid sick time for employees. For 46 percent of the state's private-sector workers, said Dave Woodward with the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, time away from work because of illness means no pay.

"One-point-five million workers across the state don't have that ability," he said, "and you shouldn't have to give up your financial security to get better and take care of your loved ones."

Democratic state lawmakers recently introduced House Bill 4167 and Senate Bill 101, which would guarantee Michigan workers the right to earn paid sick days. According to the legislation, workers could earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

More than a dozen U.S. cities and three states have paid-sick-leave policies, and Woodward said momentum is building in Michigan.

"We've seen states adopt it by referendum, we've seen laws passed at the local and state level, and I think it's a testament, it's an idea whose time has come," he said. "We're talking about rewarding work, but we're doing right by our people and our families."

Some opponents say they are against across-the-board mandates, and others argue paid sick leave can hurt job creation. Woodward said that's not the case.

"We're talking about what's right, but there's an economic reason to do so," he said. "We know it leads to higher productivity, we know that it's good for the economy, and when a worker has to come into work sick, that's a public health issue."

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are proposing to ban local governments from requiring businesses to provide sick leave.