A Democrat-backed bill requiring Nevada businesses to offer paid sick leave is meeting staunch opposition from several state business groups.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford and Assemblywoman Dina Neal presented SB 259 to the Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee on Monday.
The proposal would give workers an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and would take effect 90 days after employment begins. The proposal would require companies to give employees at least 24 hours of paid sick leave annually, and wouldn’t pre-empt existing sick leave and time off policies.
Ford said a majority of workers considered mandated paid sick leave to be a fundamental employee right.
“Paid sick leave means that employees no longer have to choose between going to work sick or getting paid,” he said during the hearing.
Republican Sen. Patricia Farley said she supported the concept but worried that the bill would hurt businesses by charging them with a misdemeanor if they fail to track accrued sick time. Farley is a contractor and said she’s had difficulty complying with a similar California law requiring her to track sick time.
“I almost have to hire somebody full time just to keep up with the compliances,” she said.
The bill would make Nevada the fourth state after California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to pass a state-wide sick pay requirement. The proposal is a major priority for Democrats, who promoted the plan in their legislative alternative agenda called “The Nevada Blueprint.”
Business group lobbyists representing the Nevada Resort Association and Reno-Sparks Chamber testified against the bill and said it could cost the state’s businesses millions to implement, in addition to existing health care cost requirements.
“We do not help create jobs by making every job created more expensive,” Reno-Sparks Chamber lobbyist Tray Abney said.
Ford countered and said the bill specifically exempts a number of industries, including agriculture and businesses making less than $250,000 a year. The Las Vegas Democrat also deflected concerns that businesses failing to meet the new requirements would be subject to a misdemeanor penalty.
“This has to have teeth,” he said. “This can’t be a paper tiger.”