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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Activists Push For Paid Sick Time

VPR/John Dillon

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin joined dozens of activists on Thursday in a call for legislation that would require employers to provide paid sick time.

Kunin said allowing people time off with pay when they’re sick is good for families and businesses. 

“Because you get loyalty. You get productivity. You get more in return than you give back,” she said. “That’s why I don’t think it should be simply called a benefit. I think it should be called the right way to do business. So I would I would say to politicians: this is a popular issue. This is not dangerous to go out on a limb for paid sick days.”

Kunin spoke at a rally at the Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex. Owner Randy George said the company began offering the sick day benefit about three years ago. He said it’s reduced turnover among his employees and made for a healthier workforce.

“I’ve come to realize that we would have been better off if we had started this benefit a long time ago,” he said. “I know view paid sick days like minimum wage laws, the 40 hour work week and other similar laws. This is a benefit that benefits us all as a community.”

The legislation says employees could earn up to 56 hours of paid sick time a year. The worker would be allowed to use the time to recover from an illness, care for a family member, or take steps to protect their safety as a result of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

The bill has the support of labor unions, the Vermont Workers Center, Voices for Vermont’s Children and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.

But the bill is likely to face opposition in the Statehouse. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce has opposed paid sick days in previous legislative sessions.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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