So who can employers trust? Well, loyal readers, as I am sure you know already. The best person to trust is yourself when it comes to making policies for your employees that fit within the guidelines and regulations provided by your state and federal department of labors, as outlined in those labor law poster collections that you lawfully display on the walls of your work sites.
And as it stands now, the law of the land—at least in Ohio and in all of the states—is that there is no requirement for how many sick days that an employer of any size must give their employees. In fact, there is no requirement at all that employers give any sick days. Besides Ohio, however, there is some movement in New Jersey, Illinois, Washington state, Oregon, Massachusetts and Texas. In the first three states—New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington—the legislature is considering a law to create some sort of requirement and actually have introduced bills into the mix to do just that.
In Massachusetts, Oregon, and Texas, the laws are just in the research and consideration stage, according to my sources, and no bills have yet to be introduced in the halls of the state assemblies.
There is one city in the entire country that has a mandatory sick day rule for its employers. Can you guess which city that is? Home of the Grateful Dead, the Golden Gate Bridge, and some the wildest hilly roads in all of the world. Yup, you got it—San Francisco.
The law that the Ohio union wants would make it so that all employers with more than 24 employees would need to give those seven sick days to employees, which could then be used for their own sicknesses, injuries, medical issues, or preventative doctor visits, as well as those for their children, older parents, or their spouses.
Even after the Attorney General in the state verifies those 1,000 signatures, employers, that does not mean you will have to change the way you give your employees sick days, completely rewrite your training manual, and put up some new labor law poster for the state of Ohio. No, after that, the Union would then need to manage to get more than 120,683 signatures to check yes for the measure—which roughly equals about 3 percent of the total voting population in Ohio as of 2006.
Then would the proposal to make employers give their employees at least seven sick days off work become law? No, then the proposal gets passed to the legislature, which would have to vote and compromise on the bill. The Ohio legislature is currently controlled by Republicans, but without being judgmental, let us just say for argument’s sake that the legislature, whoever is in control, does not act on the ballot measure.
If that happens, then the Union could go out and get more signatures to force the measure onto the ballot come November 2008. Sounds complicated? Yes, but that is how democracy, or whatever our Founding Fathers gave us, works.
However, the sides of the debate are already lining up, even before any of these signatures have been collected, or before any of the legislatures have started to debate the measure. Business supporters, such as the National Federation of Independent Business of Ohio, have already come out to say that the law would be unnecessary because most employers in the state already give their employees enough sick days.
The Service Employees International Union District 1199 says, however, according to my sources, that about 48 percent of all workers in the state working for private employers and 79 percent of low wage workers have not sick days.
If you will allow me, my loyal readers, I would like to take another break from the hustle and bustle of the minimum wage situations in the states across the United States, and in the domed edifice that is Capitol Hill. Yes, believe it or not, there are other issues, news, and happenings going on out there in legislatures and court rooms across the country that affect, or could affect, employers—and some of them do not have to do with minimum wages.
They do, sometimes, though, have to do with other labor laws and employment regulations, such as a new proposed ballot initiative in Ohio that could change the way that employers in Ohio give their employers sick days. It could be as important as to affect, down the road, how all employers, across the entire country, give their employees sick days. So would that be worth a few seconds break from all this minimum wage talk? That is what I thought!
The situation is coming about in Columbus, Ohio, because one of the state’s major unions is pressing the issue. The union—called the Service Employees International Union, District 1199—is proposing a ballot initiative that would make all Ohio employers with more than 24 employees to give all of those employees at least seven sick days a year. Call it a minimum sick day labor law.
The Union, with its 28,000 members in the health care and social service industries across Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, has some clout, perhaps enough to get something started. It already has 1,800 signatures for a petition to get the proposal on the ballot for November 2008, and then passed on those signatures to the state Attorney General Marc Dann in April. The attorney general has to confirm that at least 1,000 of those signatures are from Ohio residents.