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Wednesday, October 15 2014

HRC to Hold Hearing on Sick Time Question

Adapted from a Greenfield Human Rights Commission (HRC) press release:

On Monday, October 20, 2014, at 6PM, in the meeting room at town hall, Greenfield's Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on Massachusetts State Ballot Question #4, which proposes to entitle more employees in our state to the benefits of earned sick time.  Ben Wright, Director of Progressive Massachusetts and a Regional Field Director of the "Yes on 4" campaign, will be the guest speaker and will be available for questions.  The Retailers Association of Massachusetts, who are opposed to Question 4, have also been invited to send a representative.

If approved by state voters, Question 4 would allow workers to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a given year, earning one hour for every 30 hours worked. Companies that have 10 or fewer employees would be exempt, as would companies with equal or better sick leave policies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sick time coverage varies widely based on employment type and average earnings, with managerial and office workers twice as likely to have paid sick leave as those in service industries.

About one in three workers in Massachusetts do not have access to earned paid sick time. The least likely to have it are the lowest wage workers. More than half of workers earning under $35,000, about 54% in the state, do not have earned paid sick time. In Franklin County alone, 38-43% of employees do not have earned paid sick time.

Lewis Metaxas, chairman of the Greenfield Human Rights Commission states, "For most Americans, a sick day is a sick day - you can stay home, get healthy and rest from an illness, before going back to work. But for lower income workers it has often meant having to work sick and possibly infecting others if they are contagious, losing pay or possibly even losing their jobs. In fact, more than 1 million workers in Massachusetts can't earn a single hour of paid sick time. They may be in the position of having to choose between their health, the care of a loved one or their job that pays the bills."

The Human Rights Commission would like to hear the opinions and personal experiences of residents on this sick time proposal. All residents of Greenfield and Franklin County are invited to attend and participate. It is anticipated that the commission may issue a resolution and/or motion at the conclusion of the public hearing.