Several states (California, Connecticut and Massachusetts) have recently enacted legislation allowing workers to accumulate and use paid sick leave. In California, the statewide push was preceded by local ordinances in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. In other states which have not adopted statewide legislation, major cities such as Seattle, Washington and New York City have decided on their own to provide paid sick leave through local laws and ordinances. These laws vary on details such as which employees are covered, how much leave can accrue, what it can be used for, and whether unused leave carries forward from year to year. One factor which remains constant, however, is the fact that these local laws improve the quality of life for workers and their families.
Workers in Florida don’t have to worry about any of that, however, because state law prohibits cities from enacting any such law requiring employers to give paid sick leave to their workers.
HB 655 was signed into law in June 2013 and became effective a month later. The law can now be found at Florida Statutes section 218.077. Basically, the law prohibits any city, county or other unit of government from requiring employers to provide any employment benefits not otherwise required by state or federal law. HB 655 cut down a 2014 referendum for voters in Orange County who were considering a paid sick leave law at the time.
The law did create a task force to study the issue of whether the state should preempt local governments from enacting employment benefit laws. So far, the Employer-Sponsored Benefits Study Task Force has met four times since the law was enacted nearly two years ago.
Proponents of the legislation touted it as promoting a business-friendly environment that supports job creation. While employers may fear that such measures would increase their payroll costs, various research studies show that such policies could actually attract more qualified workers and lead to job growth and increased worker satisfaction and productivity.