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National Restaurant Association - Cities and states debate paid sick leave

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Cities and states debate paid sick leave

State legislatures are debating whether to require businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees.

More states and cities than ever before introduced bills this year to require sick leave, prompting state restaurant associations and other business groups to press for legislation to counter those proposals.

Twelve states considered bills mandating paid sick leave, but none passed such legislation. Those states are Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, New York, Vermont and Washington.

It’s a different story on the local level, where city councils voted in favor of paid-leave requirements this year. A Portland, Ore., law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014, requires businesses with at least six employees to provide an hour of sick time per 30 hours worked, up to five days a year.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) vetoed a law this month to require employers to provide at least an one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked by any employee, but the city council is expected to override his veto.

The Philadelphia mayor vetoed a sick leave law in April, but sick-leave supporters on the city council couldn’t muster enough votes to override the veto. The bill is now dead.

Local business groups, including many state restaurant associations, are working to protect jobs and prevent leave mandates from spreading to cities and counties. Many are pursuing preemption laws that ensure such debates occur at the state or federal levels, if they occur at all. Six states approved such legislation this year: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Efforts in three other states continue. 

When paid-leave efforts arose in Orange and Miami-Dade counties, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association went to work to tell policymakers that damage that one-size-fits-all local mandates can do to hiring.

“We’ve been to this show before,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO, FRLA. “Adhering to differing rules and regulations in each of Florida’s 67 counties only hinders the growth and expansion opportunities of our members.”

FRLA’s key industry partners met one-on-one with legislative leaders to educate and motivate them, and more than 10,000 FRLA members made phone calls and sent emails to legislators.

The Florida legislature passed the bill to preempt local paid-leave mandates in Florida, and Governor Rick Scott (R) recently signed it. In addition to preventing cities from pushing paid sick leave legislation in the future, the law will invalidate a paid sick leave ballot initiative set to go before Orange County voters in 2014.

Twelve states preempt local sick-leave requirements. Mandatory paid sick leave laws are in effect in Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

View the 2013 paid sick leave map and preemption legislation map.

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