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House to Hear Minimum Paid Sick Leave Bill

Posted February 8, 2012, 12:21 PM HST Updated February 8, 2012, 07:51 PM HST
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By Sonia Isotov

The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has issued an alert to its members regarding the upcoming hearing of a bill mandating employers of all sizes to provide minimum paid sick and safe leave.

The House Economic Revitalization and Business Committee has scheduled a hearing of bill HB2089 tomorrow, Feb 9.

The Bill would require employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick and safe leave to employees to be used to care for themselves or a family member who is ill, needs medical care, or is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

“Most of our businesses on Molokai are small businesses and they operate on low margins. This makes them especially vulnerable to any increase in costs. This measure could force them to offset these higher costs of compliance with lower wages, fewer hours, and even increased costs to customers.  Businesses on the “tipping point” may even have to close,” said Robert Stephenson, president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Stephenson, Molokai Chamber of Commerce President. Photo courtesy of Molokai Chamber.


“Though well intended it may be we are just not in a business climate where this measure is manageable, especially due to the recent loss of over $100,000 to our local businesses as a result of unlawful protests. These are the realities that our Molokai businesses face.”

If this bill passes, it would take effect July 1, 2012. Here are some of the requirements of the measure:

1) Requires businesses of all sizes to provide employees (ie. FT, PT, temps) who work for more than 80 hrs/yr.

2) Small employers with less than 10 employees who do not provide paid time off will need to give up to 5 days off. Other employers who already have a paid leave policy will need to provide at employees a minimum of 1 hr for every 30 hrs. worked and not more than 72 hrs in a calendar yr, unless the employer provides a higher limit.

3) For employers who already provide the benefit, it adds another layer of administrative burden.

4) Prohibits employers from requiring reasonable documentation unless the “sick and safe leave” exceeds three days of absence.

5) Penalizes employers for asking to verify whether someone is sick by requiring the employer to pay for the doctor’s note.

6) Paid sick leave accrues at the commencement of employment.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 9th, at 8:30 a.m. in Room 312 of the State Capitol on HB 2089.


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