Ohio may be first in nation with statewide paid sick days standard

A proposed ballot issue would make Ohio the first state in the nation to mandate that businesses give workers seven paid sick days a year.

Voter support for the idea is strong:

In a poll released in June, Quinnipiac University found that 71 percent of Ohio voters support the sick leave proposal, while 25 percent believe it would encourage employers to leave the state.

Tony Fiore, labor and human resources policy director for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, is promoting a “we’ll lose jobs” argument against the idea.

That argument might actually fly if 1) Ohio’s economy, like U.S., hadn’t had such meager job growth already, even without paid sick days; and if 2) during economically good times, employers expanded sick leave benefits to cover more workers.

But here we stand at the end of the last economic expansion – one in which American workers became more productive than ever before – and 2.2 million Ohio workers have no paid sick time. Another million aren’t allowed to use their sick days to care for their ill children.

(The fact that Washington, DC and San Francisco already have such a measure in place, and their local economies appear no worse than many other places, also casts doubt on Mr. Fiore’s statement.)

Voters are wising up to the fact that mandating a minimum standard for paid sick days is the only way to guarantee a level playing field for themselves, their families and local businesses.

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