A measure requiring some employers in the state to provide paid sick leave is one step closer to becoming law in Nevada. At the same time, lawmakers in Nevada are considering a plan that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2024.
Members of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee unanimously approved an amended version of Senate Bill 312 on April 11.
It requires private companies with 50 or more workers to begin offering at least 40 hours of paid time off annually beginning January 1.
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Joyce Woodhouse of Las Vegas, says too many workers are being forced to choose between their health and a paycheck.
“Of those who worked while sick, almost half reported that they went to work sick because they could not afford to lose their pay,” Woodhouse says. “Another report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention illustrates just how risky working while sick can be. One worker in Michigan infected over 100 customers while he had Norovirus.”
The original version of SB312 targeted companies with at least 25 employees. It also required employers to offer paid sick leave based on the number of hours they worked. That particular language faced opposition from business leaders who say the regulations are too onerous for small businesses.
Those same groups have since voiced support for the new, amended version.
In a similar vein, legislators are also considering a minimum wage increase for the state of Nevada. Current state law requires employers to pay workers $7.25 an hour if health insurance is included in their compensation and $8.25 is those benefits are not available.
The measure, AB456, approved by the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee, would increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 and $12 an hour depending on benefits.
Presenting the measure to lawmakers, Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson, a Democrat from Las Vegas, says the measure will help lift many of the state’s lowest paid workers out of poverty.
"We are at a time when families are using these jobs to feed their children and provide their basic needs, and I believe that we need to adapt to the needs of our community," Frierson said.
Critics of the bill, which include the Reno, Sparks and Las Vegas Chambers of Commerce, say forcing employers to increase pay will force businesses owners to either cut hours, lay off employees or raise prices.
If the measure does become law, wages will increase.