Paid sick leave is on the agenda for Virginia General Assembly

Posted at 1:39 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 07:27:13-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Lawmakers will be debating whether or not to require businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees when they meet for their special session starting Tuesday.

Many big topics will be addressed during the session, including the budget, COVID-19, and police and criminal justice reform.

Democratic lawmakers also want to push for paid sick leave. "I definitely think before the pandemic we needed paid sick leave. People need to be able to be sick and be able to go home and heal to make the others they work with safe and for their own safety," said Del. Marcia Price (D-Newport News).

The bill has not been filed yet, but it would require employers to give five sick days to full time employees and provide two weeks of paid sick leave if they get COVID-19 or have to quarantine. During the session earlier this year, a similar bill passed in the House of Delegates, but did not make it through the Senate.

"You're not getting productivity out of people who are sick in your business, so it just makes sense that we want to make it safest for all," said Price.

The proposal has some push back in the business community. "[Business owners] care about their employees and want to do everything they can for them, but when you mandate a one-size-fits-all program, it's really hard for businesses to adapt especially in today's climate," said Kate Baker from the Virginia Retail Federation.

In March, Congress passed measures to ensure people with COVID-19 can take sick leave and Baker said the Retail Federation still has a lot of questions over the exact details of the proposal before the General Assembly. "These types of things impact businesses, especially our small members, hard financially and they need flexibility," she said.

The session begins Tuesday and could last for several days or weeks.

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