An attempt to pass some version of a paid sick-day law, even if it doesn’t do anything, is still under way in the Legislature’s final weeks.

The bill has been scaled back once already, making it apply only to businesses with 50 or more employees, abandoning many of the low-wage restaurant and day-care workers it was supposed to protect. In its latest iteration, the bill would provide no paid sick days to anyone, but would give workers the right to sue if they felt that they had been fired unjustly after missing work for illness or to care of a family member.

Enough. This bill won’t help anyone except maybe its sponsor, Senate President Libby Mitchell, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor.

This was a well-intentioned measure that came up in the wrong place and the wrong time.

It was rejected by the Legislature in 2008, and reworked this session with a flimsy hook to the swine flu scare, which is why it was titled, “An act to prevent the spread of H1N1.”

The good news for the public that the pandemic ended up not being nearly as deadly as was feared turned out to be bad news for the bill, because there was no wave of hysteria for it to ride.


Instead, its supporters keep trying to make the bill small enough to get something into the law.

But passing a bill that creates a right to sue would help few, if any, workers or their families. It could make Maine look unfriendly to business, however.

The main obstacle to a paid sick leave requirement remains that no other state has one. A federal sick leave standard would be a much better way to address this problem.

Maine’s high unemployment rate and fragile economy mean that it should not step out alone with a law that discourages economic development.

Any law that could scare away potential employers, or force existing employers to cut costs by reducing hours or positions, is not the direction we should be headed.

This bill belongs in Congress, so if it passes, every state would be on equal footing.

It’s not time to rework it in Augusta this session. It is time to scrap it.


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