Virginia Dems introduce paid sick leave law for workers

As the bill itself states, this legislation would “provide a more generous paid sick leave policy” to many of Virginia’s most vulnerable workers, and that’s why state Democrats are advocating for it. (Photo via Shutterstock)

By Isabel Soisson

January 18, 2024

Fresh off their wins in November’s legislative elections, Virginia Democrats have introduced a bill to establish a paid sick leave program for all workers in the commonwealth. 

Delegate Jeion A. Ward (D-Hampton) introduced House Bill (HB) 348 earlier this month. The legislation would expand provisions of the state code that currently requires one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked for home health workers to cover all employees of private employers and state and local governments, as well.

The bill would also allow employees who are compensated on a fee-for-service basis, meaning they are paid per service performed, to accrue paid sick leave in accordance with regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. Employees that transfer to a separate division or location would also remain entitled to previously accrued paid sick leave, and employees would retain that accrued sick leave even when they get a new job. 

Under the bill, employees would be able to use their paid sick leave for physical or mental illness, to take care of a family member, or for services or relocation due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

If the bill goes into effect, employers who violate provisions of the law would be subject to a civil penalty not to “exceed $150 for the first violation, $300 for the second violation, and $500 for each successive violation.” Employees who feel they were taken advantage of by their employers would also be permitted to bring civil action against them. 

A recent poll from the Virginia Interfaith Center, a member of the Virginians for Paid Sick Days Coalition, found that a whopping 88% of Virginians support a requirement that employers provide paid sick leave to their workers.

The legislature has yet to have a hearing on HB 348, which has been referred to the House Labor and Commerce Subcommittee.

State Sen. Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) said last year that “essential workers should know they can take the time they need to get better when they feel sick, instead of being forced back too soon and contributing to disease spread.”

“Virginia is still suffering from a labor shortage leftover from the pandemic, and I’m optimistic that paid sick leave legislation will lead to a more resilient economy,” he said. “Senate Democrats are committed to building a Virginia that works for employers and for families.”

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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