Despite New Law, Many NV Workers Lack Paid Time Off
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- It's been nearly a year since Nevada's first-ever paid-leave law went into effect, but loopholes are making the law less effective than backers intended, especially during the pandemic.
The state law requires businesses to provide 40 hours of paid leave, or five eight-hour work days. But Quentin Savwoir, political director for the group Make it Work Nevada, pointed out that new businesses have a ramp-up period; employers can choose to offer five holidays off instead of paid leave, and companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt. Savwoir noted that Americans talk a lot about how small businesses are the backbone of the economy.
"Yet, 50 and more are the only people whom this bill protects," he said. "We're not protecting the folks that are powering our small businesses, which we know are Black and Brown people."
Prior to the paid-leave law, an estimated 510,000 Nevadans couldn't take time off without losing pay, according to Guinn Center data, and roughly 476,000 workers are exempt. That's more than 90% of employers not providing paid leave.
Savwoir said the need for paid sick days in addition to paid leave already was a pressing issue before COVID-19, but the pandemic has renewed its urgency. If workers could take the time they need to care for themselves and their families, he said, they'd likely be even more productive upon their return. He added that paid sick days would save the state health-care system money if fewer people are spreading illness at work.
"It's very important that folks have a benefit such that they don't have to worry about going to work and getting ill," he said, "or not going to work and then risking not being able to fill up their gas tank or pay their light bill."
The Legislature meets again in February, but Savwoir said he worries lawmakers may not have the appetite to enhance a law so newly implemented. He said he thinks the top priority should be changing the exemption to businesses with fewer than 15 employees instead of 50.
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