Letter: The importance of paid sick leave

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Editor of the Reformer:

I've been involved in the campaign for paid sick days in Vermont for many years. As the Director of Human Resources at Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls, I've been in the position to see firsthand how offering paid sick leave benefits our employees and our company. I look forward to the impact the passing of H.187, The Healthy Workplaces Bill, will have on our state.

From an ethical standpoint, paid sick days are simply the right thing to do and I'm proud our company offers 10 paid sick/personal days a year, in addition to vacation time. I would feel horrible knowing one of our employees was ill or distressed at work, unable to stay home with an ill family member or obligated to be at work due to financial concerns.

In addition, having sick employees at work isn't good for business. Our employees do work that requires a great deal of focus and concentration. If they were to work ill, there is a high probability they would make more errors. As the materials and product we work with often have a high value this would potentially cost us more than the cost of providing paid leave. The simple reality is being sick negatively impacts the quality of someone's work.

While I'm supportive of the idea of paid sick leave, I would not be universally in support of a bill offering it. Often when things that people would provide are legislated, they becomes cumbersome and bogged down in bureaucracy, rules, and reporting requirement. I think there are business owners who have yet to look at the bill in detail to realize that is not the case here.

The legislation was shaped in partnership with small business owners. It would allow employees to earn up to three days of time for the first two years of legislation and up to five after that. It also only applies to long-term, permanent employees. Employers offering any type of paid leave will meet the requirement of this legislation as long as employees can access that time for the purposes of the legislation. There are also no specific rules related to administration or reporting.

We're fortunate to live in a state with a multitude of great employers, who care a great deal for their employees. We've been able to recruit many staff members based on their desire to live and work in Vermont, a state that has a reputation for being a leader in employment and social policies.

The importance of paid sick leave is becoming universally recognized, multiple states have already passed similar legislation. I want Vermont to stay at the forefront of progressive policies that will help us continue to attract quality employees to our state and company. I also want to know that when we offer paid sick leave to our employees, their spouse/partners working elsewhere are receiving the same benefit. Making sure Vermont employees have access to paid sick leave will benefit us all.

Angela Earle-Gray, Bellows Falls, Jan. 4



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