Nebraska organization trying to get paid sick leave on 2024 ballot

An organization in Nebraska is fighting to get the issue of paid sick leave on the state's 2024 ballot.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 10:38 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Appleseed is circulating a petition to get paid sick time to all employed Nebraskans.

The nonprofit group launched the campaign in July and hopes to get the initiative on the November 2024 ballot.

“We’ve heard everything from ‘I thought this was already the law’ to ‘I have had jobs or currently have jobs where I don’t have paid sick leave and this is really important to me,’” field director Kait Madsen said.

The group says workers shouldn’t have to choose between their paycheck and their health.

“If they get sick, if their kid gets sick, if they have to take care of a sick or elderly parent, really their only option is to lose out on a paycheck to take care of themselves or their family or continue working,” Madsen said.

According to a 2021 Nebraska Department of Labor report, 35.5 percent of businesses said they offered no paid sick leave to full-time employees, while 78 percent said they offered none to those working part-time.

Madsen said she knows of people in food service who have gone into work sick, simply because they don’t have paid sick days to take.

“It’s folks who are interacting with people all day, sometimes interacting with vulnerable populations,” she said.

Nebraska Appleseed’s proposal would require employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers at a job with fewer than 20 employees could earn up to five days of paid sick leave per year. Those at jobs with more than 20 employees could get seven.

“It creates a right of action so individuals could bring a lawsuit if their employer violated the policy,” Madsen said.

Nebraska Appleseed needs 90,000 signatures by July 2024. They said they can’t share the number of signatures they’ve collected at this time, but that Nebraskans are excited to support this effort.

That said they’ve also been educating people about the petition at community events and by doing presentations.

For the full list of upcoming community canvasses for paid sick leave, click here.