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(Updated 10:32 p.m.)The House debated a bill Thursday which would allow employees to earn paid sick days.

After a lengthy nine hour debate the House passed the bill 88 to 58.

The bill would require businesses with 50 or more employees to allow their employees to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work. The amount of time an employee could earn would be capped at four days in 2010 and five days in 2011.

Supporters of the bill say sick employees are less productive and if they’re sick run the risk of infecting others in the workplace. Opponents said it would create a burden for employers who are already struggling in the current economy.

Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said there are tons of exceptions to the bill. He said the bill doesn’t address the broad public policy issue, it simply targets a certain group of employers.

“Voting on this bill will put people out of jobs,” Rep. Anthony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, said. “We need to help people not hurt them.”

Several lawmakers argued this was bad for business owners who are struggling in this economy.

But Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, said employers will save money in the long run by offering paid sick days through reduced turnover.

“Paid sick days make it easier for working families to survive and protect the public health at the same time,” Ryan said. “When sick people go to work or send children to school sick, they risk transmitting a disease to co-workers or students.”

Jon Green, director of Connecticut Working Families, said, “Now more than ever, paid sick days is an important public policy to protect public health, to provide economic security for working families and to reduce the spread of illness in the workplace.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for approval. The Senate has passed a similar bill twice in the past with bipartisan support.