Letter to the editor: In support of healthy workplace bill

In support of healthy workplace bill

I am writing to thank and acknowledge the legislature for passing H. 187, The Healthy Workplaces bill, through the House in the last legislative session. If it passes in the Senate in 2016, the Healthy Workplaces bill will establish a minimum standard of earned time off for every working Vermonter.

I particularly want to thank the leadership of House Speaker Shap Smith and Governor Peter Shumlin for supporting the progress and development of this important legislation.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate, and I urge my Senators: Senators Mullin, Flory, and Collamore to seriously consider the work that has been done on this bill to find a workable balance for employees and employers and to vote to support the Healthy Workplaces bill when they return to the legislature next January.

As President of FarVision in Rutland and as the founder of Evolve Rutland, I understand the important balance that this legislation has struck to address the need of all Vermonters to be able to take care of themselves or a sick family member while ensuring adequate freedom and moderation for employers.

Establishing a statewide minimum standard of earned sick time benefits us all, by:

• Stabilizing wages and supporting working families;

• Preventing costly, unnecessary hospital visits and the spread of infectious diseases; and

• Supporting a more productive and stable workforce to grow the economy.

I agree with the majority of Vermonters who support there being a standard of earned paid leave in our state. Nearly 60,000 working Vermonters don't have access to even one day of paid time off.

The Healthy Workplaces bill is a reasonable and responsible solution – it was developed in partnership with Vermont small business owners, who helped to shape the legislation so Vermont employers can feel good about it.

The standard is modest and incremental: employees can earn up to three days for the first two years after the bill passes and up to five days after that.

The legislation only applies to long-term, permanent employees: new employees must work for at least 1400 hours or 1 year before they have access to the benefit and the bill excludes seasonal and temporary employees.

And it's flexible for employers: any type of paid leave will meet the requirement of this legislation – it does not have to be specifically designated sick time so employers who currently provide a paid leave benefit to their employees will see no impact from the passage of H.187.

H. 187 is an incredibly important piece of legislation for Vermont, and I urge my Senators to support it.

— Kiki McShane, president of FarVision, a division of Chris Fucci Associates, co-founder of Evolve in Rutland. Hubbarton.


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