AUGUSTA – A bill aiming to set standards for paid sick leave is facing opposition from the state Chamber of Commerce.

The An Act to Care for Working Families, sponsored by Jacqueline Norton, D-Bangor, would require businesses with 25 or more employees to provide a set rate for paid hours off due to illness. Employers would be required to provide one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.

In a statement issued to members of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the organization “strongly opposes” the legislation.

“Passage of this bill could cost affected employers thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars just to comply with the law,” the chamber states. “No other state in the nation imposes such a burden on business.”

The original text of the bill stated that an employer was not required to provide sick leave in excess of 72 hours or nine days annually. An amendment to the bill reduced that time to 40 hours or five days, but kept the standard for accruing sick time intact. Sick time may be rolled over to a new year, but may not exceed the set limits.

The bill also initially stated that employers may require notice or verification of an illness if five consecutive sick days are used. The amendment reduced that number to three sick days.

The divided report narrowly cleared the Labor Committee earlier this month with a 6-5 majority. The vote was mostly along party lines, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing, although Rep. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, opposed it as well.

The chamber also argued that the bill will force employers to revise their current time off practices, while multistate businesses will have to establish a separate tracking system for Maine.

Attempts to reach members of the Labor Committee were unsuccessful Friday.

The bill is currently tabled in the House of Representatives.

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