Thursday, September 16, 2021
Sept. 16, 2021

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Murray promotes paid sick leave in Vancouver

Employment specialist, small-business owner among its proponents

By , Columbian Political Writer
Published:
3 Photos
Jeanne Bennett of Workforce Southwest Washington, from left, speaks with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., as Don Orange and Alex Roberts of Hoesly Automotive look on Wednesday morning at the Marshall House in Vancouver. Murray was in town to talk about guaranteed sick leave.
Jeanne Bennett of Workforce Southwest Washington, from left, speaks with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., as Don Orange and Alex Roberts of Hoesly Automotive look on Wednesday morning at the Marshall House in Vancouver. Murray was in town to talk about guaranteed sick leave. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Don Orange shared his business philosophy with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray on Wednesday: He treats his employees well, and in return they treat him well.

The owner of a Vancouver auto repair shop is a proponent of the Healthy Families Act that the Democratic senator from Washington is championing. The measure would guarantee workers up to 56 hours or seven days a year of paid sick leave.

Orange said he likes the idea and wants to see the federal government create guaranteed sick leave.

“In five to 10 years, I might sell the place,” Orange said. “And I would like this to stay part of the culture.”

Murray listened to a group of local residents speak about the challenges when employers don’t offer guaranteed sick days.

Cadie Dye, an employment specialist with Partners in Careers, said when people go to work sick, it creates a vicious cycle.

“They are often putting themselves and family at risk by going to work sick, perpetuating the sickness,” she said, and it often results in staying sick longer, or losing their jobs.

“I see the benefits of overall creating a healthier community if they were able to have that option,” Dye said.

The legislation, as it’s currently crafted, would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees would be eligible for the leave if they are sick, if they need to see the doctor or seek other medical care, if they are taking care of a sick family member or if they are seeking help related to domestic violence, according to information from Murray’s office. Employers could require employees to provide documentation if a worker is gone for more than three days.

For businesses that employ fewer than 15 people, those workers could earn up to seven unpaid sick days.

Murray said she will continue to work on the legislation.

“To me, it’s something as a country we need to do,” Murray said.

Too many employees risk losing their jobs when they are sick, which creates an economic barrier from them reaching their full potential, the senator said.

“If you’re going to work, you want to reach your full potential,” Murray said.

Murray tried to get the measure passed in 2015. Opponents of the measure have voiced concerns about mandated paid sick leave, worrying it could hurt small businesses that are struggling to stay open.

Murray said she recently told a Republican colleague, “The next time you go to the deli and order meat, just think about whether that person has sick leave or not.”

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