As a judge hears arguments about Milwaukee’s sick leave ordinance Monday, advocates says the swine flu outbreak is proof the plan is needed. Milwaukee voters in November approved a binding referendum that would require employers to give paid sick leave. Before the mandate could take effect in February, the Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce sued to block the ordinance. MMAC calls it unconstitutional and unworkable.
But a labor group defending the city says the recent H1N1 outbreak has shown how important paid sick time is. Recently the families of 16,000 kids were affected as the students’ schools were shut down as a health precaution with some parents unable to take time off work.
“No one should have to choose between a paycheck and preventing possible pandemic,” says Sangita Nayak, Milwaukee lead organizer with 9-to-5 .
Critics say the mandate burdens employers especially small businesses. However, Nayak says cities with similar plans have not suffered financially in fact benefitted in some cases. She says companies face better employee retention which reduces the high cost of employee hiring and rehiring.
The judge is expected to rule on the case within a few weeks.