Ned Lamont, the Greenwich cable executive, who is exploring a run for governor recently said he would not support a bill that requires businesses to pay its employees sick time. The statement drew immediate criticism from labor unions and one of his Democratic opponents.

Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy said Monday that Lamont, “doesn’t get it.”

“There are certain basic rights that should be afforded to any working person in Connecticut, and paid sick leave is certainly among them,” Malloy said. “It’s wrong that we would penalize workers – salaried or on hourly wage – for being ill.”

Kurt Westby state director of 32BJ SEIU, the union that represents 5,000 janitors and food service workers, said the reality is “Too many workers are forced to choose between going to work sick or losing a pay day.”

The end result is that “too many working men and women put off seeing a doctor or taking their kids to one because they can’t take off from work,“ Westby said Monday. “Not only is this situation bad for sick workers and their families, but it puts other workers and the public at risk of contracting infectious illnesses.”

But Lamont, who runs a small business with less than 50 employees, isn’t sold on the idea.

Joe Abbey, Lamont’s campaign manager, said Tuesday that his candidate is only opposed to the idea for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

“It’s just so hard for them to compete,” Abbey said. “We should leave this to the free market.”

Abbey said Lamont is concerned a bill that requires paid sick leave would put Connecticut’s small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

In a phone interview Tuesday evening Abbey said Lamont would make an exception for businesses involved in the public safety and public health fields. And if the federal government adopted U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s paid sick day legislation then that too changes the equation and creates a level playing field.

Lamont’s own company Lamont Digital Systems does offer paid sick leave to its employees, but Abbey didn’t know exactly how much paid leave is offered.

This year’s paid sick day bill raised by the legislature’s Labor Committee only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees.

Similar bills have been raised a couple years in a row now and each has received a fair amount of debate. Last year’s debate in the House lasted nine hours before it passed 88 to 58. The vote was not along party lines. Last year it died on the Senate calendar and the year before that it died on the House calendar. This year’s bill is a Senate bill.

Proponents of the bill often argue that employees would have to earn the sick time and that it just wouldn’t be given to them.