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Should all employers be required to provide sick leave?

Many Pennsylvania readers are familiar with the idea of maternity leave. Maternity leave as we know it today is actually guaranteed to workers in Pennsylvania as a part of a larger federal law called the Family Medical Leave Act. Under the FMLA, workers can take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks each year to care for a new baby, a sick spouse, or an ailing parent. This law protects workers from being fired or retaliated against for taking the leave, which is an important part of protecting workers from pregnancy discrimination.

While these protections are important an impactful for workers around the country, many advocates argue that they don't go far enough. In fact, they do not protect people who work only part time or those who are at a company with less than 50 employees. This ultimately results in 44 million workers in the United States who do not have access to leave under the FMLA.

Labor rights advocates have been pushing for reforms, and in New York City labor groups, business groups, and local politicians came to an agreement to extend unpaid sick leave to employees at smaller companies, including those at companies with 20 or more workers. Unfortunately, the mayor has announced that he will veto the bill, saying that it is harmful to business interests and may hinder job creation efforts.

What do you think - should unpaid sick leave be extended to employees at smaller companies? Or would it be too restrictive and costly for small companies?

Source: Bloomberg Business Week, "Mayor Bloomberg Says He'll Veto Bill Mandating Sick Leave" March 29, 2013

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