In a move watched carefully by some 20 cities and states, Connecticut has become the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick days for workers.

The bill, signed by Governor Dannel Malloy earlier this month, covers only hourly service workers at companies with more than 50 employees and excludes manufacturers and some others.

San Francisco and Washington, D.C. currently guarantee paid sick time, but Connecticut is currently the only state with such a requirement. State legislators in Massachusetts and California, as well as local lawmakers in the cities of Philadelphia, Seattle and Denver, are all considering similar moves.

Opponents argue the costs are too high and could mean passing higher prices on to consumers or reducing employee wages and benefits in other ways.

But Vicki Shabo, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership for Women and Families, said, "The basic reality is that there are 40 million people in the United States that don't have paid sick days. They risk being fired or disciplined if they are sick, a child is sick, or a family member needs medical care."

For his part, Connecticut's governor has long supported the paid sick leave mandate. "Why would you want to eat food from a sick restaurant cook? Or have your children taken care of by a sick day care worker? The simple answer is you wouldn't. And now, you won't have to," he has said.

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