Democrats are hoping to make workers a centerpiece of their first term in power.
Paid sick time. That’s the idea behind a bill introduced by Democratic Delegate Elizabeth Guzman that would require all employers in Virginia give all their workers five paid sick days.
Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says it’s the right thing to do.
“Five days is not a lot. If you’re an employer, you can afford five paid sick days," Bobo explains. "I can’t really believe that a business is going to go out of business because somebody takes a paid sick day or takes even five paid sick days.”
But others worry that the mandate might cripple businesses across Virginia.
Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore initially signed on as a co-patron, then thought better of the idea and removed his name.
“A lot of times these smaller employers, they don’t have anybody that can come in," Kilgore argues. "They’re going to have to go out and hire somebody to replace or at least temporarily hire somebody. So that may be a problem.”
Supporters say the requirement is particularly important for workers in the food-service industry, many of whom are forced to come into work while sick — raising public health concerns they say should override any business concerns.