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Demonstrators Want General Assembly To Guarantee Paid Sick Days

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Less than a week before the end of the 2016 General Assembly and protesters want lawmakers to back a bill that would give more than 700,000 workers across the state paid sick leave.

As Gigi Barnett explains, demonstrators say it's a bill that keeps all workers healthy.

Feet from the State House are demonstrators who say they struggle to stay well. Many don't have paid sick leave and fear that one sick day from their jobs could lead to days in emergency care and no job at all.

"I spiked a fever of 103 and ended up in the emergency room and I had a severe kidney infection," said Megan Sennett.

Now workers are asking Senate lawmakers to approve a bill that allows them to earn paid sick leave at businesses with more than nine employees. Some small companies don't offer the benefit, forcing sick workers to clock in.

"It doesn't do any of us any good when sick people are going to work and spreading their illnesses to coworkers," said Jobs Opportunity Task Force Deputy Director Melissa Broome.

Senator Catherine Pugh wrote the bill. It failed four years in a row but earlier this week, House members passed it.

Several small business groups and Chambers of Commerce are against the bill. They say paid sick leave will cut into their bottom line by driving up labor costs.

"This is allowing people to earn sick leave. We're not saying just give it to them. We're saying allow them to earn it," said Pugh. "If you're allowing your workers to use their vacation for sick leave, you're not in this bill."

While the House has already approved the bill, the Senate is still considering it. It will have to act fast, though, because the General Assembly ends at midnight on Monday.

Washington DC, Seattle and San Francisco have adopted similar paid sick leave laws for all workers.

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