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The political battle over paid sick leave in Indiana

Many Indiana workers make the effort to report to work even when they are not feeling up to the job, and studies indicate that 90 percent of working Americans do the same thing. Sometimes, these sick workers are worried about losing their jobs, but many of them simply cannot afford to take unpaid time off work. Almost 40 percent of the private sector workforce receive no paid sick days at all, and several states have enacted legislation, or have bills pending, to address this issue. However, Indiana passed a law in 2013 that prevents any city or county in the state from establishing sick leave rights for private sector workers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act established rules for wages and hours, but it failed to address workers' rights in the area of sick leave. Labor laws often face fierce opposition from the business community, and employers argue that paid sick days would be abused by workers. The public do not seem to share this point of view. Studies show that approximately 75 percent of Americans support a federal law guaranteeing paid sick days for all workers.

Laws prompting sick leave legislation are supported by a broad spectrum of business interests including the Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business. While the 2013 law leaves private sector workers in Indiana with no paid sick leave, state workers receive up to 67.5 hours per year.

Many employees show up for work when they are sick because they fear for their jobs, and many others are hesitant to take action when they are not paid correctly for the same reason. An attorney with experience in this area could explain the legal protections that workers in Indiana enjoy, and they could explain the penalties that employers may face if they take retaliatory action against workers who file a complaint when these rights are violated.

Source: The Economic Policy Institute, "One by One, States Are Pushing Bans on Sick Leave Legislation," Gordon Lafer, Nov. 6, 2013

Source: Inc, "Everything You Need to Know About Paid Sick Leave", Suzanne Lucas , December 05, 2014

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