Governor, Labor Groups Find Compromise on Paid Sick Leave

Feb 4, 2020

Governor Ralph Northam and advocates for paid sick days have struck a compromise. It might determine how many businesses are affected.

Advocates for paid sick leave wanted lawmakers to require all employers with five or more workers offer five paid sick days. Then the governor weighed in and suggested it should be businesses that have 25 employees or more. Eventually the two sides struck a compromise, that the requirement would apply to businesses with 15 or more employees.

“It would help probably about 600,000 workers get some paid sick days who don’t have it. It’s a modest proposal. It would be a good first step for Virginia,” says Kim Bobo, executive director at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Hobart Bauhan opposes the bill.  He's a lobbyist for the Virginia Poultry Federation and testified at a committee hearing Monday.   “Unfortunately this legislation would be costly and challenging to administer in an industry such as ours, where we have a lot of varied hours and shifts.”

Just as he was finishing his statement, Senator Lynwood Lewis asked a question of the poultry lobbyist. “Your people don’t offer paid sick leave already?”

“Not as a general rule. No,” Bauhan responded.

“Really?” Lewis replied.

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved the bill Monday evening, although it stripped out a key provision — workers who feel they’ve been wronged will no longer be able to recover attorney’s fees to help them afford representation.

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