Pennsylvania lawmaker aims to protect workers’ rights with paid leave bill - TAI News
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A Democratic lawmaker from Pennsylvania is aiming to protect workers’ rights with legislation that would limit “use it or lose it” leave policies that prevent employees from carrying over or cashing out unused paid time off.

State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, a Democrat, announced in an April 29 press release that her upcoming bill will follow legislation passed in California, Colorado, Montana, and Nebraska that prohibits “use it or lose it” policies. In those states, unused paid time off is considered to be wages that must be given to workers in the form of pay.

In states without bans, such policies typically stipulate that a worker cannot use paid time off earned during one calendar year in another year and bar employees who are leaving their jobs from receiving pay for unused paid time off.

“We want to prevent any trend toward employers using these policies because paid time off is money earned by a worker; those wages and time must not be allowed to be taken back,” Daley said in a prepared statement. “Workers deserve fair protections in state law against unscrupulous practices, and that’s what this bill would do.”

Details regarding exactly how the legislation would limit the policies have yet to be made public, and Daley was unavailable for comment as of press time. The lawmaker is seeking bipartisan co-sponsorship for her bill.

Daley noted in the press release that even if employers offer paid time off, which is not mandatory in Pennsylvania, employees aren’t always able to use that benefit, leaving them in a position in which they run out of time to use their paid leave or they aren’t able to receive pay for it if they’re departing their job.

“While it may seem easy to those in some professions to encourage workers to use their vacation and other paid time off, many employees are denied the use of leave multiple times by their supervisors,” Daley said in the press release. “Some other employers might place limitations on when and how vacation time is used. For those reasons and more, paid time off is meant to be banked and used when it’s conducive for the employee and employer. That can take years, when workers routinely give 10, 20 and 30 years of service to an employer.”

Daley’s push to address “use it or lose it” policies comes at a time when state lawmakers are advocating for increased rights for workers, including a higher minimum wage and a universal paid leave program for full- and part-time employees.

Democratic legislators have primarily been the ones rallying behind such expanded rights for workers, though some Republican lawmakers have recently backed raising the minimum wage and implementing a paid leave program — both of which are popular among the general public.

The Democratic-led state House, for example, in June 2023 passed House Bill 1500, which would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage until it reached $15 in 2026. Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, has called on state lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A bill introduced last year by Republican Sen. Dan Laughlin, a near carbon copy of the House bill, has stalled in the Republican-led Senate.

A House bill that would create a universal paid leave program in Pennsylvania was passed out of committee in December; that legislation is expected to be voted on by the full House. Republican Sen. Devlin Robinson and Democratic Sen. Maria Collett are sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate; that bill remains in committee.

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