About Paid Sick Leave for Nebraskans
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Paid Sick Leave?
Paid sick leave laws typically provide short-term time off, often in increments of hours or days. Sick time can be used for time off because of a short-term illness (such as a stomach flu or bad cold), to attend a medical appointment, to seek preventive care (like vaccines and routine medical check-ups) or to care for a loved one who is ill. Paid sick time is an employment benefit that employers provide.
If passed by the majority of Nebraska voters, the ballot initiative would require all Nebraska businesses to offer paid sick leave to employees—so they can earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. For employees of small businesses, this would be up to FIVE days of paid sick time. For larger businesses, employees would get up to SEVEN days of paid sick time per year.
How will the policy work?
If passed by the majority of Nebraska voters, the draft ballot initiative language would require all businesses to offer paid sick leave to employees with employees earning paid sick leave for time worked.
- Businesses with less than 20 employees would offer 5 paid sick days (or 40 total hours/year.)
- Businesses with 20 or more employees would offer 7 paid sick days per year (or 56 hours total/year).
Who is eligible under this initiative?
Full-time, part-time and temporary employees are eligible to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. This does not apply to federal, state or county employees.
What if I already have paid time off (PTO)?
If an employer already provides paid time off, or PTO, instead of paid sick leave, that policy will stay in place as long as workers are permitted to use PTO for paid sick time and the benefit matches that outlined in the ballot language (40 hours for employees of small businesses and 56 hours for employees are companies with 20 or more employees). This does not apply to federal, state or county employees. This policy will not interfere with collective bargaining agreements, contracts or policies that provide more generous paid sick time to employees.
What if my company offers combined paid sick time and paid time off (PTO)? Will this change that benefit or cause a reduction in my hours off?
So long as your employer provides the minimum amount of paid sick leave required under the law (if passed), businesses would still be able to offer more time off and time off for different reasons.
Can employers retaliate against workers for using sick days (fire, not schedule people for shifts, etc.)?
There are thousands of Nebraskans who are working, full- and part-time, who don’t have paid sick leave at all and even more who have paid sick days but can’t use them without getting penalized. This ballot initiative would put into law the ability for employees to earn and use paid sick days without retaliation.
What if I’m self-employed?
Solo practitioners who own a business are not employees (or employers) for purposes of this ballot initiative.
How will this impact my small business/bottom line?
The law will benefit small businesses by making staff healthier and more productive and reducing employee turnover. Additionally, paid sick leave requirements level the playing field between businesses that might want to provide this benefit for their workers but fear the financial cost and their competitors.
When would Nebraska workers be able to start earning paid sick leave?
If passed by the majority of Nebraska voters in November 2024, paid sick leave would go into effect on October 1, 2025.
How is this different from paid family and medical leave?
Paid sick leave laws typically provide short-term time off, often in increments of hours or days. It’s an employment benefit that employers provide.
Paid family and medical leave is usually a longer-term leave of up to a few months. Federal law provides eligible workers with 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Paid family and medical leave benefits are typically paid through a state social insurance program funded by employer contributions and employee payroll deductions.
Who can sign the petition?
Only registered voters in Nebraska may sign the petition.
How many signatures will it take to get paid sick leave on the ballot in Nov. 2024?
For the issue to be placed on the ballot, signatures totaling 7% of registered voters in the state are required, which equals about 90,000. Additionally, signatures must be collected from 5% of registered voters in 38 of the 93 Nebraska counties. A coalition of organizations and individuals will work to collect signatures from registered voters across the state by July 5, 2024.
Can I collect signatures in my community?
Yes, if you are interested in collecting signatures to get paid sick leave on the ballot you can sign-up to become a volunteer at PaidSickLeaveForNebraskans.org.
Who is behind this ballot initiative?
There are currently 14 Nebraska-based organizations working in collaboration to get paid sick leave on the ballot for Nov. 2024: ACLU of Nebraska, The Arc of Nebraska, Heartland Workers Center, Nebraska Appleseed, Nebraska Appleseed Action Fund, Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, Omaha Together One Community (OTOC), OutNebraska, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska, Second House Collaborative, Voices for Children, YWCA Grand Island and Women’s Fund of Omaha.