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Federal sick leave proposed to combat H1N1

By Sean Ryan

As a court battle continues to rage in Milwaukee over paid local sick leave requirements, federal legislation was proposed Tuesday to require sick days to combat H1N1 flu.

Milwaukee voters approved a law by referendum in November 2008 that requires businesses to let employees working in the city accrue up to nine sick days a year.

The law has never taken effect since the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce successfully challenged it in circuit court, prompting an appeal by sick leave advocacy organization 9to5, National Association of Working Women.

The chamber of commerce on Monday filed its latest arguments against the 9to5 appeal, reiterating arguments it made in circuit court, saying the law violates the Wisconsin Constitution and is illegal. The next step in the case will come later this month when 9to5’s attorneys respond to the MMAC arguments.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both Democrats representing Connecticut, are supporting a nationwide two-year paid sick leave requirement. The legislation proposed Tuesday in the U.S. Senate would require workers to get up to seven paid sick days annually for two years after the bill is approved.

Dodd – testifying to the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families on Tuesday – said workers need the sick days to get away from work if they catch H1N1 virus.

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