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I would like to express my strong support for the Earned Sick Leave bill recently reported favorably by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and my disappointment that the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the bill (“Gambling on mandates sick leave,” April 6th.) Over 1 million Massachusetts workers, including employees in the Nashoba Valley region, do not have a single paid sick leave day off, leading to a reality where workers who are sick force themselves to go to work due to economic insecurity, thereby increasing the chance that their co-workers will become sick, leading to less productive workers overall.

The bill reported out of committee is hardly a budget buster for businesses, as the bill only allows workers to earn paid sick leave on a pro-rated basis for 40-56 hours (or 5-7 days), depending upon the size of the business.

Additionally, a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that businesses would see a benefit of $348 million annually due largely through reduced turnover. Averaged over the private-sector workforce, the weekly cost of the policy will be $1.49 per worker and savings will be $2.38 per worker, for a net savings of $0.89 per worker per week. Employers that already provide paid time off to employees consistent with this bill do not have to change their policies.

As the employee of a small business, I am sympathetic to the concerns of business owners about costs. However, I feel that in addition to the economic analysis that shows employer benefits to such a bill and provisions that do not require employers to change existing policies, I believe that this bill makes sense for public health.

Paid sick leave will help reduce the spread of contagious diseases such as norovirus and the flu, reduce unnecessary emergency room visits (saving an estimated $22.7 million) and saving money for public health insurance programs, and protect our most vulnerable populations by helping to prevent the spread of illness in day-care centers, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. A recent poll showed that over 75 percent of Americans support a paid sick leave benefit for all workers. This bill provides provisions to protect both employees’ health and businesses’ bottom lines, and I urge the members of our state legislative delegation to support this bill.

KATHLEEN

O’CONNOR

Ayer