Kate Duffy, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Human Resources, said the state typically has 600 to 800 temporary employees on its payroll out of a total workforce of about 7,800. Those workers don't accrue the sick time, vacation time and other benefits that full-time state workers get.
The most recent workforce report from Duffy's department, for the fiscal year that ended in June, showed the state's temporary workforce with a wider fluctuation: from just below 500 in January to more than 1,000 in July. During the warmer months, many temporary workers staff the state parks, Duffy explained.
Bringing the state into compliance with a proposed new law saying a worker would accrue an hour of sick time for every 30 worked, up to 56, or seven eight-hour days per year would cost the state $300,000 to $400,000, legislative researchers have estimated. That's why, after it cleared the House General committee this past week, it was sent to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.
Committee member Rep. Peter Fagan, R-Rutland, said he wasn't sure when Appropriations would get to the measure -- or how it would be paid in an unusually tight budget year. If the House passes the measure, it would still have to go to the Senate.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said this past week that he supported paid sick leave in principle, but "the devil is in the details."
The Vermont State Employees' Association, the state workers' union, has strongly supported the paid sick leave requirement.
"A lot of VSEA members say many of the temps at their worksites are coming to work sick because they do not have paid sick days. All this does is get more employees sick_full-time and temporary_and the public, if they happen to come in contact with the sick temp. More employees out sick translates to a drop in productivity and a decline in services," union spokesman Doug Gibson said in an email.