Breakpoint: Employers and New Labor Mandates

Issues & Policies

Thousands of Connecticut employers—via a letter from more than 70 business organizations and chambers of commerce to every state legislator—have sent a simple message to lawmakers: “the perpetual threat of new and expanded labor mandates must end now.”

That’s because every time the legislature gathers, Connecticut’s job creators are forced to spend time and energy lobbying against a barrage of new and costly labor mandates.

Biz-Costs_020516It’s nearing the breaking point for many employers, including at least one long-time Connecticut company that directly cited the threat of these new mandates as a reason they left the state.
Some lawmakers keep pushing for these mandates believing that they’re beneficial to businesses.
They say forcing businesses to provide such things as paid family and medical leave, mandated retirement savings plans, and a $15 per hour minimum wage will help attract young workers to the state.
But the facts say otherwise: Connecticut’s college grads and younger workers are fleeing to states offering more job opportunities. And most of those states have far fewer labor mandates—or the constant threat of them—than Connecticut.
Proponents also point to several major employers recently making headlines for offering these types of excellent benefits in order to retain and attract top level talent.
The irony, often lost on mandate advocates, is that the many businesses able to afford these benefits are already providing them. Companies that can’t afford to offer them, don’t.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t squeeze the type of benefits that technology giants can offer out of a local mom-and-pop shop.
And while it’s popular to point to really big corporations offering this benefit, advocates tend to ignore the tens of thousands of Connecticut businesses—represented in the letter—saying that these new labor mandates will hurt them.

The new target for those pushing labor mandates are small businesses, the backbone of Connecticut's economy.

For example, a New Haven legislator, in a recent panel at Yale, told students “Paid family leave is the most important thing we can do this year,” the Yale Daily News reported Rep. Roland Lemar (D-New Haven) as saying.
Never mind the state’s massive projected budget deficits and the fact that key business organizations in his district oppose the mandate.
Most troubling is that the new target for those pushing these labor mandates are small businesses, the very backbone of Connecticut's economy.
Each of the mandates being proposed will apply to businesses with as few as five full- or part-time workers.
Two of the biggest threats to Connecticut's smallest businesses this session include:

  • Requiring nearly every business in the state to automatically enroll any employee not covered by an employer-sponsored plan into a new state-sponsored retirement plan. The state would pass the costs and burdens of enrollment and administrative onto those businesses. Taxpayers will have to pay the program’s hefty startup costs, however.
  • Requiring employers to implement paid family and medical leave to all employees. This program would cut the wages of workers (the state will deduct their pay), and leave employers to figure out how to deal with an employee absent from his or her job up to 12 weeks each year while continuing to provide them with nonwage benefits.

CBIA urges state lawmakers to reject efforts that will add costs and burdens on Connecticut employers but reduce their ability to create and sustain good jobs.
For more information, email or call CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.244.1931) | @egjede


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