Poll results suggest Nevada’s paid sick leave bill is too weak

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Eight out of ten Nevadans agree: Workers should get paid leave

A poll released Thursday found Nevada voters overwhelmingly support legislation that would expand access to earned paid sick days across the Silver State.

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, which conducted the live telephone survey of 601 registered voters via cell phone, found that 82 percent of voters statewide supported passing legislation that would allow workers to earn paid sick days.

The poll also found that 53 percent of respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, compared to 44 percent who view him favorably. Gov. Steve Sisolak got a 47 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable. And 64 percent of those polled said Nevada’s economy is on “the right track.”

But the survey drilled into attitudes about paid sick leave. The poll was commissioned by Time to Care Nevada, a coalition of several state advocacy groups who are pushing Nevada lawmakers to pass earned sick leave law.

The survey found strong support — 78 percent — for state legislation that would provide all workers with 10 paid sick days per year at businesses with ten or more employees, and five earned paid sick days per year at businesses with fewer than ten employees.

Those provisions are more generous than the paid sick leave bill lawmakers are being considered in Carson City.

The paid sick leave bill in the Legislature, SB 312, mandates that private sector employees at businesses with 50 or more employees earn a total of 40 hours (five days) of paid leave annually. This is a departure from the bill as originally introduced, which had employees accruing paid sick time at a specific hourly rate and applied to any private employer with 25 or more employees. The original bill only allowed employees to earn three days per year.

Several business organizations supported the amended bill. The Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce supported the amended bill. CEO Ann Silver told the committee that 75 percent of their members are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees — meaning the amended paid sick leave bill would largely not apply to them— and largely putting into question how many employees the bill would benefit.

Time to Care Nevada organizers plans to use the poll as ammunition for more far-reaching sick leave legislation.  

“There is a true appetite from voters to see something happen on this issue,” said said Anzalone pollster Molly Murphy.

When asked why voters believe paid sick leave legislation was important, respondents saw it as a personal economic issue, said Murphy. She said people felt that losing pay due to illness or risking job loss when sick was “fundamentally unfair and can jeopardize the future of the family.” Respondents also felt a desire to prevent the spread of disease from a public health aspect.

A growing share of American workers are struggling to balance family caregiving responsibilities and work obligations and the issue of paid family and medical leave has captured the attention of policymakers and advocates across the state.

“What legislators want is backup to make sure what they’re doing is the right thing for their constituents,” said Natalie Hernandez, the campaign manager for Time to Care Nevada who commissioned the poll. “We’ve been using this poll to make sure that legislators know that… 50 employees or more can become lower, and make sure that more Nevadan’s are included in the policy.”

In the poll Nevada voters saw “allowing people to earn paid sick time” as the second most important issue for the governor and state Legislature to address, following investing in education and ahead of “cutting taxes.”

Strong support for paid sick leave crossed party lines but Democrats were more supportive of paid leave than Republicans and independents. Ninety-seven percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents, and 69 percent of Republicans supported state legislation for paid sick leave.

“It’s an incredibly popular policy. It’s not politically divisive the way some issues tend to be that enter the Legislature or the governor’s agenda,” Murphy said.

Support for earned paid sick days also spanned across all major demographic groups, including 90 percent support among Hispanics and 81 percent of white voters.

Under Nevada law, state employees receive paid sick leave, which may accumulate year to year but employees who work for private businesses are not entitled to any paid sick leave. Forty four percent of the Nevada private sector workforce — nearly a half million people — have jobs that offer no paid sick days, according to a estimates released last month by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Unlike most developed nations, America lacks a national policy on sick leave, leaving it to the states, and increasingly to cities, to pass legislation. Currently, the District of Columbia and eleven states have laws mandating paid sick leave for at least some employers.

The poll was conducted between January 22 and 27 and surveyed 601 registered voters by bilingual interviewers in English and Spanish. 53 percent of interviews were conducted via cell phone and had a 4 percent margin of error. Forty-one percent of respondents identified themselves as “more likely” to vote for Democrats, and 38 percent said they were more likely to vote Republican.

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

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