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July 06, 2011 12:28 AM UTC

One step closer to paid sick days in Denver

  • by: CampaignforaHealthyDenver

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Campaign for a Healthy Denver is one step closer to implementing a paid sick and safe leave policy in Denver.  Petition signature circulators collected over 12,000 signatures-which is well over three times the 3,973 petition signatures required to qualify for the November municipal ballot.  

About 40 activists dressed in medical scrubs and infectious disease masks delivered the petition signatures to the Denver City Clerk’s office today.  The clerk has 25 days to verify the signatures.

Coming on the heels of the recent poll that showed that two-thirds of Denver voters support the ballot language, cutting across nearly every demographic group (including self-identified Democrats, Republicans and Independents), it looks voters really want paid sick days to be the law of the land in Denver.

It’s about public health. Parents don’t want their kid to come home from childcare with the flu.  I know I’d rather the poor guy with norovirus stay home instead of serving up my lunch at a downtown restaurant.  And the last thing my friend’s elderly mother needs is her beloved home health worker to breathe her cold germs all over her.

And it’s pro-business, too, because it maximizes and protects worker productivity.  It’s much better to have one employee out sick for one day than to have disease transmission take out many for a week due to disease transmission.  And workers don’t abuse the policy in cities with paid sick days like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. despite dire predictions

Plus, isn’t it just the right thing to do?


5 thoughts on “One step closer to paid sick days in Denver

  1. First, does the proposal allow for “Personal Time Off” which gives an employee a certain number of paid days off each year which they can use for any purpose?  Is it limited to companies of a certain size and larger?  Please give us some more details.

    If there are no limitations such as above, then the proposal is decidedly anti-busniess.  The fact is that most people who have sick time, don’t get sick and they use their sick time as vacation time.  They “take a mental health day.”  This hurts businesses from three real perspectives.  First, it causes an employee to lie to an employer, a fact that both of them know and which causes mistrust between both.  Second, it is a nightmare for the employer, because the employer gets someone calling in sick (when they really aren’t) and making productivity much less.  Finally, as you undoubtedly know, there is no requirement in the law right now that employees be given any paid time off.  For instance, at my law firm, my employees don’t get time off.  They work what they work when they want to work and don’t when they don’t want to.  This gives them flexibilty to determine the size of their pay check and how they want to priortize their day.  Under your system, I would have to pay my employees for a certain amount of sick time.  Frankly, I would lay off both my employees if I had to do this, as I can’t afford it.  In the alternative, I would need to re-negotiate my deal with each of them to lower what they now get to make up for what I have to pay them for if they don’t work.  Is that what you want?

    The fact is that most companies offer some kind of paid time off.  By mandating this sort of thing, you will cause small businesses who pay well more than minimum wage to lower wages  and/or lay off employees.    Perhaps you are trying to deal with the minimum wage shops, but you are hurting small business with better jobs more.

    Gosh, I sound like a Republican this morning.  Just to remind you, the party left me, I didn’t leave the party.

    1. You must be exhausted! Want a powerbar and a Gatorade?

      Ok, first things first, you could have saved yourself some typing time by clicking on Progressive Promoter’s name and finding the answers to your questions:

      A quick summary of the proposed language includes:

      – Paid sick days for all workers in Denver (except State and Federal workers) earned at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours work.

      – Paid sick time is capped at 72 hours (9 days) per year for full-time workers and is pro-rated for part-time workers.

      – For businesses with fewer than 10 employees, the cap is lower at 40 hours (5 days).

      – For an employees own mental or physical illness, diagnosis, preventive medical care or need for a medical procedure.

      – For an employee’s need to care for a close family member when ill or in need of diagnosis or medical care.

      – To deal with medical, legal or relocation issues related to domestic violence.

      – Small businesses will have an additional 6 months following the effective date of the ordinance to implement the provisions of the law – new small businesses will have a year after they begin operation before they need to give employees paid sick time.

      The law would set a minimum floor – employers can give more leave and are encouraged to do so!

      Second, where are you getting “most employees don’t get sick” or “they take a mental health day?” Have you ever worked in an office with several dozen employees where one person came in with a nasty cold? The people out the next week are NOT taking “mental health days.” Someone willing to lie to their employer will do so regardless of whether or not they have sick days. An honest employee will be honest regardless.

      I work for a corporation that offers “sick instances” where, within reason, each time you are ill you may take as many days as you need–over a certain threshold it becomes short term disability, but in the “I need a couple days” range, it’s the honor system. The company has over 10,000 employees worldwide and has never had an issue with abuse of this policy.

      If you don’t trust the two employees you work with daily to take time off when they need it, not just to squeeze as much out of you as they can, why not replace them?

      Or maybe the problem is that you have two honest employees who are working for a mistrustful, miserly boss who can’t fathom that it might just be a good idea to let them take a day out when they have the flu without hampering their ability to meet their expenses.

    2. and I have no paid time off. If I go into work sick I compromise my patients. If I stay home I lose money to pay my rent. As a nurse I am asked to do no harm, but I am being asked to harm myself by not being able to afford to take time off.

      Every company that I have worked for in CO ha offered me no paid time off.  

  2. I am not so concerned about the policy in this as I am that the proponents are trying to use city government as the vehicle to implement and enforce.  This is not a city level issue – state level, yes.

    Does anyone know how many businesses would actually be affected?  I doubt any of the big companies would be affected since they probably have an acceptable policy.  Seems like it would only apply to small mom and pop operations.

    What exclusions are in it?

  3. We know that nearly 40% of Denver workers do not have access to paid sick days, so this is an issue that affects many individuals and families.

    There are special accommodations in the paid sick days ordinance for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.  Employees at these sized businesses will earn a lower amount of sick time, capped at 5 days a year.  These businesses will also get extra time to come into compliance with the law.

    I thought that people might also be interested to know about an independent, non-partisan study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on the effects of the paid sick days law in San Francisco, which was the first city to implement this kind of policy.  The study says that employees use paid sick days responsibly and they treat them like insurance, only to be used when needed.  It also means that employers don’t pay for the full number of sick days that an employee accrues.  In San Francisco, the average employee earns between five and ten sick days per year, (depending on the size of the business they work for,) but they only end up using 3.  Sounds pretty reasonable to me.    

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