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State Lawmakers Passed on a Paid Sick Days Proposal This Year

The Senate rejected an effort to require businesses to offer five paid sick days.

Business groups rallied at the end of the General Assembly session, pressing lawmakers to reject an effort to require employers to offer five paid sick days.

On the Senate floor, Democratic Senator Chap Petersen of Fairfax City said part time workers don’t really need paid sick days because they have all that free time.

“So once they have vested," Petersen said. "And once they have accumulated the 30 hours and they work for me eight hours a week and the other 160 hours are their free time and they need to take a child to the doctor’s office or what have you, they can use the eight hours they’re working for me to run that errand as opposed to the 160 hours that they have of their own free time.”

After he gave that speech, the Senate voted to kill the bill.

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says she’s disappointed in the vote, adding part-time workers need paid sick days too.

“These people desperately need paid sick days, both for themselves but also for the rest of us. We eat in restaurants. We send our children to these childcare centers, and we send our sick family members to these homes and hospitals with these health aides that don’t have paid sick days," she explains. "So it really is a benefit for all of us, and not just workers.”

The vote comes as Virginia is grappling with new cases of coronavirus, one of which is in Senator Petersen’s district.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.