State News

Business group suggests alternatives to earned leave bill, oposes “one-size-fits-all” mandate

By Amy Ash Nixon,

A House bill that would introduce paid time off is not sitting well with everyone in Vermont’s business community. H.187, introduced last week, proposes to establish three days of paid leave for the next two years, eventually increasing to five days of leave.

A letter from the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, shared with VTDigger by the group’s president, Jim Harrison, stresses that VRGA remains strongly opposed to the bill. The VRGA letter will be sent to members of House this week, Harrison said.

In the note, the association argues that employers should decide the benefits and paid leave policies of their workplaces based on their specific needs.

“As a one-size-fits-all approach, H.187 and any similar legislation would inevitably impose unwarranted expenses increasing the cost of employing Vermonters, and it would represent an inappropriate intrusion by government into employer decisions in managing their own businesses,” the letter says.

The association suggests that instead of trying “to impose an unfunded and inflexible mandate from Montpelier,” pro-leave advocates work with employers to educate them about earned leave policies and models.

Testimony on the House bill has not yet begun. However, lawmakers in the Senate have already heard testimony on a similar bill proposed by Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, earlier in the session. In contrast to the somewhat scaled-back House bill, S.15 proposes seven days, or 56 hours, of paid leave.

The bills before the House and Senate both call for hours to be accrued for part-time workers as well as full-time workers.

Advocates say many part-time workers in Vermont are juggling multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet and are family breadwinners.

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