Connecticut is likely to be the first state in the country to require paid sick leave for workers in companies that have at least 50 employees, under a bill state legislators expect to enact this year.
For every 40 hours worked, an employee would be entitled to one hour paid sick leave.
A Newington woman said not having sick days almost cost her life.
"I would never take off for work for anything, not even a funeral," said Cheryl Foulston, a former livery driver. "And when I got laid off, I finally went to see a doctor and found I had a big tumor in the middle of my heart."
Supporters of the bill brought her to the legislative office building as an example of someone the paid sick leave act would help. They contend most employers provide benefits more generous than the bill requires.
"They do that not only because they feel it's just the right thing to do," said Jon Green of Working Families. "They also know that providing paid sick leave saves them money. It increases productivity and it reduces employee turnover, which is actually a much more costly drain on the bottom line."
On the other hand, paid sick leave makes automation that much more attractive to management, an expert in from Washington who spoke against the bill, said.
"If you look at decisions employers have made, substituting things that used to be done by people -- everyone knows that bagging your own groceries, that's the latest example, it used to be pumping your own gas, this is what happens when you mandate additional labor costs for employers and employees who are working at the bottom end of the wage spectrum," said Michael Saltsman of the Economic Policies Institute.