RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - A bill requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for employees in public health emergencies was easily defeated by a bi-partisan majority in a Virginia State Senate committee this week.
The bill, SB 5076, was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington). Favola attempted to get paid sick leave legislation passed in the regular session, but the bill was tabled at the time. On Wednesday, the committee voted 12-3 in favor of passing the bill by indefinitely, effectively ending its chances of getting passed in the Senate during the special session.
The bill was vehemently opposed by businesses, who claimed that it was a bridge too far during the pandemic. Opponents of the bill argued that businesses could not afford to pay for the measure, even with state assistance. However, proponents of the bill say that the businesses cannot afford not to pay for employee sick leave, if the alternative is shutting down.
“So when businesses say like they did the other day, we can’t afford this,” Virginia Interfaith Center Executive Director Kim Bobo said. “In fact, they can’t afford to have workers coming to work sick and getting everybody sick, that means the entire business has to shut down.”
The fight for paid sick leave is not over yet, though. A similar measure is still advancing in the House of Delegates as a part of House Democrats’ legislative package.