Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

03/10/2009 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 86 PAID SICK LEAVE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 14 EXTEND MOTOR FUEL TAX SUSPENSION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 39 EXTEND BOARD OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                     SB  86-PAID SICK LEAVE                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:44:34 PM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  PASKVAN  announced  SB  86,   version  R,  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELLIS, sponsor  of SB 86, said the paid  sick leave issue                                                               
is important  to thousands  of Alaskans.  The U.S.  Department of                                                               
Labor statistics estimate that 120,000  Alaskans work without the                                                               
safety net of  a paid sick leave policy, and  are often forced to                                                               
choose between coming  to work sick and  losing their employment.                                                               
Many of  these workers have  jobs in places such  as restaurants,                                                               
nursing homes and child care  facilities where a sick employee is                                                               
not  only a  threat  to  other employees,  but  a  threat to  the                                                               
public's health as well.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
He  encouraged them  to read  a January  27, 2009  Forbes article                                                               
that  encapsulated  how  this  view  is  friendly  to  employees,                                                               
businesses  and  the public  health  and  safety. Businesses  can                                                               
benefit  and  often  save  money  by  offering  paid  sick  leave                                                               
programs,  because when  an  employee comes  to  work sick,  they                                                               
expose  other employees  to the  illness. Because  of this,  more                                                               
workers  need to  take time  off and  recover from  their illness                                                               
instead  of  just the  person  who  started  the illness  in  the                                                               
workplace.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Federal inaction  on this  issue to date  has inspired  dozens of                                                               
local governments to  pass paid sick leave laws.  About 15 states                                                               
currently  are  considering  this nearly  identical  legislation.                                                               
Three cities  have already passed  paid sick leave laws  of their                                                               
own.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:47:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE said the article says  $180 billion a year is being                                                               
lost from non-productive and absent  employees, and asked if that                                                               
$180 billions isn't  also lost when employees  are absent because                                                               
they are on sick leave.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELLIS responded that the  reference is to the other folks                                                               
who  are  infected  in  the  workplace  and  what  that  does  to                                                               
productivity.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE said he remembered when  he was a teacher they went                                                               
through "the game  of sick leave" where people  were sick because                                                               
of sunburn or  something. In many instances  it's called personal                                                               
leave because  that more accurately reflects  what really happens                                                               
- you  had to  take a day  off because someone  else was  sick or                                                               
something like  that. Had  the sponsor  thought about  calling it                                                               
personal leave instead of sick leave?                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELLIS answered that he  would appreciate that discussion,                                                               
because there could be a more accurate way to refer to this.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:49:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER said  he supports the idea of sick  leave, but even                                                               
their own employees  come to work if  they just have a  cold or a                                                               
sore throat,  because they want to  cash in their sick  leave. In                                                               
theory it  sounds good, but the  culture in the market  place has                                                               
to also reflect that.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELLIS   said  he  hoped   to  discuss   those  practical                                                               
considerations with introduction of the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:51:22 PM                                                                                                                    
NICK  MOE, aide  to Senator  Ellis, sponsor  of SB  86, explained                                                               
section 1  on page 1, line  4, says that all  employers must post                                                               
sections of this law in  a conspicuous location at the workplace,                                                               
and the state will offer copies at no additional cost to them.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Sections 2  and 3,  beginning on  page 1,  line 10,  describe the                                                               
action taken if  an employee is not given proper  paid sick leave                                                               
saying  the employer  will be  liable  for the  amount of  unpaid                                                               
minimum  wages,  unpaid  overtime  compensation  or  unpaid  sick                                                               
leave.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section 4,  on page 2, line  14, establishes the paid  sick leave                                                               
itself  saying  for every  40  hours  of  work an  employer  will                                                               
provide  one hour  of sick  leave  to employees  residing in  the                                                               
state of Alaska as well as  to those employees who aren't under a                                                               
collective bargaining agreement.  Section 4, on page  2, line 21,                                                               
states  if an  employer already  has  paid sick  leave for  their                                                               
employees this doesn't apply to them.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Section 4(d)  on page 2,  line 30,  describes what the  paid sick                                                               
leave  may be  used  for.  It may  be  used  for the  prevention,                                                               
diagnosis, or the  treatment of the employee and  paid sick leave                                                               
may also  be permitted for  a member of the  employees' immediate                                                               
family  for  a  mental  or physical  illness,  injury  or  health                                                               
condition.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:53:32 PM                                                                                                                    
Section 4  on page 3,  line 7, goes  on to explain  the potential                                                               
employer  violations  of  the  section.  Section  5  provides  an                                                               
effective date of October 1, 2009.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:53:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BUNDE  asked if  people  can  cash  out sick  leave  and                                                               
remarked that  some places have  a use it  or lose it  sick leave                                                               
policy.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MOE  answered that this  bill doesn't allow cashing  out sick                                                               
leave.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE asked if this requires  an employer to pay for sick                                                               
leave at the time of termination.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. MOE answered no.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:55:16 PM                                                                                                                    
STEPHANIE  STERN,  Work  and   Family  Policy  Analyst,  National                                                               
Partnership for  Women & Families, Washington  D.C., supported SB
86. She said she had submitted written testimony.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. STERN said  one of their proudest  accomplishments is leading                                                               
a nation-wide movement to ensure  that all workers are guaranteed                                                               
paid sick  days to use when  they are ill  or need to care  for a                                                               
sick  family member.  They lead  a  broad coalition  of over  150                                                               
groups dedicated to advocating for  paid sick days at the federal                                                               
level, and  they also  support advocates who  are working  at the                                                               
state  and  city  level  to   advance  the  issue  through  their                                                               
legislative bodies and on the ballot.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
She said  chances are that  each of us will  get sick or  need to                                                               
take care  of a  family member  this year, but  not all  have the                                                               
option to  take time  off from  work to get  better. In  the U.S.                                                               
today, nearly  half of  the private sector  workers don't  have a                                                               
single paid sick  day. Currently no state or  federal law insures                                                               
that  workers have  paid sick  days  when they  need them.  Three                                                               
localities,  San   Francisco,  the  District  of   Columbia,  and                                                               
Milwaukee, have passed paid sick day standards to date.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:58:32 PM                                                                                                                    
Low-wage workers  a hit hardest  by the  lack of paid  sick days;                                                               
only 1 in  4 low-wage workers have access to  paid sick leave and                                                               
they  often hold  jobs  that require  frequent  contact with  the                                                               
public.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Paid sick days are also  important for public health. When people                                                               
have  no choice  but  to go  to work  sick,  they risk  infecting                                                               
others. For  example, only 1 in  5 food service or  hotel workers                                                               
has any paid  sick days, and child care, retail  and nursing home                                                               
workers are also very unlikely to have paid sick days.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
This policy  is also incredibly important  for children. Research                                                               
shows that  children get better faster  with a parent at  home to                                                               
take care  of them. This  benefits older relatives the  same way,                                                               
as well.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STERN  said that  paid  sick  leave  is also  important  for                                                               
victims of  domestic violence  and sexual  assault. Approximately                                                               
7.6 million people  per year are the victims  of intimate partner                                                               
violence. Paid sick and safe  days will insure that all survivors                                                               
of domestic  violence, stalking or sexual  assault are guaranteed                                                               
paid  sick  time when  they  need  it  most  to leave  a  violent                                                               
situation and  access necessary services  without risk  of losing                                                               
their jobs or their paychecks.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Finally, she  said, they know  that paid  sick days are  good for                                                               
the U.S. economy. Those workers who  have no paid sick days go to                                                               
work sick and spread sickness  to their colleagues lowering their                                                               
overall productivity and cost the  employer greatly. When workers                                                               
are  guaranteed  paid sick  days,  employers  benefit as  healthy                                                               
workers are  more productive  and spread  of illness  is reduced.                                                               
Employers  also  reap savings  by  having  reduced turnover,  the                                                               
costs of  which include  advertising, interviewing,  and training                                                               
replacement workers.  These costs are generally  far greater than                                                               
the cost of providing paid sick time to retain existing workers.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She  also added  that  paid sick  days  are critically  important                                                               
during times  of economic  downturns. Losing pay  for even  a day                                                               
can be a  blow to a family's budget that  is already stretched to                                                               
the  limits. Losing  a  job due  to missing  work  can result  in                                                               
financial catastrophe.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
In a  recent poll,  1 in  6 respondents reported  that they  or a                                                               
family member  had been  fired, suspended,  punished or  had been                                                               
threatened with being fired for  taking the time off for personal                                                               
illness.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR PASKVAN said he would hold SB 86.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE  asked  that they  address  the  "safe"  language,                                                               
because Ms. Stern mentioned it and it wasn't in the title.                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 14 Bill Packet.pdf SL&C 3/10/2009 1:30:00 PM
SB 14
SB 14 Fiscal Note.pdf SL&C 3/10/2009 1:30:00 PM
SL&C 3/24/2009 1:30:00 PM
SB 14
SB 39 Bill Packet.pdf SL&C 3/10/2009 1:30:00 PM
SB 39
SB 86 Bill Packet.pdf SL&C 3/10/2009 1:30:00 PM
SL&C 3/24/2009 1:30:00 PM
SB 86
SB 86 Back-Up Steffany Stern Testimony.pdf SL&C 3/10/2009 1:30:00 PM
SL&C 3/24/2009 1:30:00 PM
SB 86