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Seventy-two percent of U.S. workers get paid sick leave

Another mandatory paid sick leave ordinance is being proposed for Albuquerque, this one by City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Don Harris. The proposal would require companies with more than 50 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to their employees.

A proposed city ordinance that would have required every employer in the city, no matter how big or small, to provide sick leave to employees was narrowly defeated by city voters in October.

The latest mandatory sick leave proposal begs the question of who actually gets sick leave. Well, we've got some data on that from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which put out its latest numbers about employee benefits in July.

(I've posted the PDF of the BLS study here. Got to pages 16 and 17 to read the paid sick leave stats.)

It turns out that 72 percent of all U.S. workers get paid sick leave. Here's how that breaks down:

In private industry, 68 percent of all workers get paid sick leave. For state and local government workers that jumps to 91 percent.

As you might expect, larger companies offer more of their employees sick leave than do smaller firms.

In our region, which can be called the Mountain West, 72 percent of all private sector workers get paid sick leave.

So what kinds of employees are most offered paid sick leave?

Those in management.

In the private sector in the U.S., 88 percent of workers receive paid sick leave. In the service sector, 46 percent of private sector workers get it.

The discrepancy between which private sector workers do and don't get sick leave is biggest when it comes to full-time and part-time workers. Eighty-one percent of full-time workers get it, while 36 percent of part-time workers receive it.

The BLS doesn't break things down by metro area, city or state, so I've emailed both Sanchez and Harris to see if they have any idea of what percentage of companies in Albuquerque offer their employees paid sick leave.

It'll be interesting to see if they know, or if they're just flying blind on this.

Here's the news release that Sanchez and Harris put out Thursday evening:

City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Don Harris Announce New Sick Leave Bill

Bill to be introduced at the City Council Meeting on December 18, 2017

Today [Thursday] City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Don Harris announced the introduction of a new sick leave bill that would require employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. The bill, which will be introduced at the City Council’s December 18th meeting, requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide paid sick leave as follows:

One hour of paid sick leave accrued for each forty (40) hours worked by an employee, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year.

Employees can carry over up to forty (40) unused accrued hours of paid sick leave from the current calendar year to the following calendar year.

Employees can use their sick leave for medical care for themselves, for their spouses or family, or if the employee is a victim of family violence.

Employees can use accrued paid sick leave upon the completion of the employee’s 720th hour (90th day) of employment.

Applies to employees that work an average of at least 20 hours a week

Does not apply to employers that already have an existing sick leave/paid time off program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the ordinance.

Does not override or modify any collective bargaining agreement effective prior to January 1, 2019.

Employees who feel that their employer has violated the provisions of the Sick Leave ordinance can file a complaint with the City’s Office of Diversity and Human Rights, and, if their claim has merit, will be afforded a hearing with the City’s Independent Office of Hearings. If the employer is determined to have violated the ordinance, a fine of $100 per incident may be imposed. If the employer is found to have retaliated against the employee for filing a complaint, a fine of $500 per incident may be imposed.

“I think this bill represents a fair and equitable balance between the needs of employees and the needs of businesses,” said Council President Sanchez. “Sick leave is critical to the health of our workforce, but it has got to be done in a way that doesn’t hurt the very businesses that provide the jobs in the first place. I think this bill is balanced and represents an excellent starting point for a much longer discussion.”

“An ordinance that would have been very harmful to Albuquerque businesses almost passed at the last election, and so it’s clear that Albuquerque’s citizens want action on sick leave,” said Councilor Harris. “The City Council needs to be proactive to ensure that any sick leave ordinance protects employees but also provides employers with a predictable and realistic process to administer.”

After introduction, the bill will be referred to the City Council’s Finance & Government Operations Committee for discussion.

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