CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Small Business for Paid Sick Days, a campaign started by businesses and organizations across the commonwealth, is pushing for the Virginia Senate to pass House Bill 2137, which would require employers to provide essential workers with 40 hours of paid sick leave.
“At a very high level, HB 2137 includes a paid sick day standard for essential workers who are working 20 hours a week or more, any business who has that category of employee would be required to off paid sick leave to those employees,” said Audra Grassia of Freedom Virginia and Small Businesses for Paid Sick Days.
Roughly 1.2 million essential employees do not receive paid sick leave.
According to coalition leaders, new legislation will not only keep people healthy, but actually save businesses money. According to this study by the National Partnership for Women and Families, employees going to work while sick, due to not having paid sick leave, caused the national economy to lose $160 billion annually before the pandemic even began.
“Keeping our businesses and workplaces safe and healthy is the best way to avoid the spread of illness, or having to shut down temporarily, and to help our economy recovery,” said Awesta Sarkash of Small Business Majority.
Hannah Mahaffey Stevens with Martin Horn, a construction firm in Charlottesville, said paid sick days help small business hire and retain more employees.
“We find just giving our employees a benefits package that includes paid sick days has made our average tenure of employees 10.25 years, which is five times other construction companies,” Mahaffey Stevens said.
Paid sick leave, she explained, is mutually beneficial for both employers and employees.
“We have truly seen it kind of pay itself off. That’s not why we do it, but the return on that investment is employees that have stayed with us a really long time, who are highly skilled and we retain those employees. We have great relationships with them. They do better work because of it,” she said. “It’s just good business to do that, to treat your employees fairly.”
The bill passed in the House earlier this month. Now, the group is waiting for it to pass in the Senate.