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HR Issues Update: Paid Sick Leave on the Ballot in 2008?

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Paid Sick Leave on the Ballot in 2008?

In what might signal a major issue for the upcoming 2008 presidential election, organized labor has launched a state campaign to ask Ohio voters whether workers should be guaranteed seven days of paid sick leave, per year. Ohio is an important state in any national election, and this could be a start of a multi-state effort.

On April 6, 2007, a petition was filed to advance a new statute titled the "Healthy Families Act" before the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly. The proposed statute is almost identical to legislation (S. 910 and H.R. 1542) pending in the U.S. Congress, also titled the "Healthy Families Act."

As drafted, the Ohio proposal would require that employers with 25 or more workers provide seven days of paid sick leave annually for employees working 30 hours or more a week. The bill also would provide a pro-rated amount of paid sick leave annually for employees working less than 30 hours per week or less than 1,560 hours per year.

Proponents of the "Healthy Families Act" in Ohio must now collect 120,683 signatures in support of placing the proposal before state lawmakers in January 2008. Lawmakers would then have four months to act on the proposal. As an alternative, supporters of the proposal could force the issue onto the November 2008 ballot.

Legislating through the ballot box has become a popular 'Get Out the Vote' tactic for both political parties and interest groups in recent elections, with such issues as the "Minimum Wage Increase" and the "Same Sex Marriage Ban" figuring prominently in the 2006 and 2004 elections, respectively.

SHRM will monitor and report on any similar efforts in other major states.

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