With Paid Sick Days Bill on his Desk, Northam Weighs Exemptions

22 hours ago

Governor Ralph Northam is considering how to handle a bill mandating paid sick days.

He’s considering a change that advocates say could undermine the purpose of the bill.

If businesses with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from a new law requiring five paid sick days, the proposed new law would have almost no impact because 90 percent of businesses would be exempt.

Gov. Ralph Northam

And yet that was a proposal made earlier in the session by Governor Ralph Northam. Now he’s considering a bill lawmakers sent him that exempts businesses that have 15 employees or fewer. He says he’s not sure what he’s going to do yet. “That’s part of my job is to look at those bills and do what’s in the best interest of Virginia. So that’s what I’ll plan to do,” Northam said after a news conference Tuesday.

"Earlier this session you were at 25, and now you’re not sure,” I asked?

“There are a lot of bills that are coming to me," Northam responded. "I will look at all of them and do what’s in the best interest of Virginia.”

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says she’s hopeful Northam has abandoned the idea that businesses with fewer than 25 employees should be exempt from being required to offer five paid sick days.  “Given the current coronavirus, the ongoing need of low-wage workers to get a few paid sick days and how much the governor cares both about public health and about workers, we are hopeful that he will sign the bill into law as presented to him.”

When workers don’t have sick days, she says, they show up to work sick — and she says that raises new concerns now that the coronavirus is presenting a new threat to public health.

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