How Do These Bills Help Employers Create Jobs?’
Employer groups spoke out this week as the state legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee began public hearings on a number of troubling bills.
Much of the committee’s agenda this year targets private sector employers, including the revival of the restrictive scheduling and so-called captive audience measures.
CBIA’s Eric Gjede told the committee those proposals “come on the heels of last year’s very tough session for employers, particularly small businesses.”
“What do any of these proposals do to help businesses create jobs?” Gjede asked the committee Feb. 25.
“We all share the goal of wanting Connecticut to be a place where there are lots of job opportunities and people are prospering in every community.
“However, there is no longer a balance between the needs of employers and employees in the state.”
Connecticut has yet to recover all jobs lost a decade ago in the 2008-2010 recession and 2019 was the second slowest year of the last 10 years for private sector job growth in the state.
Gjede said many of the state legislature’s policy choices over recent years hamper growth by unnecessarily increasing private sector investment risks.
“While there are certainly signs of life out there and good things are happening, we need to be realistic about where we are compared to other states,” he said.
“We are not competing in terms of job growth the way states around us are. A recent newspaper article described it as a lost generation for jobs.
“We want and need to see job growth happening in Connecticut. We want to see more opportunities created for people.”
Gjede spoke against three bills on the committee’s Feb. 25 agenda—SB 226, SB 227, and HB 5273. The committee will take up additional measures later in the session.
SB 226 changes the business model for the ridesharing industry by mandating a commission-based compensation system for drivers.
Gjede said prohibiting driver incentives and dynamic pricing will negatively impact both passengers and drivers.
“A commission-based system undermines the ability to ensure service is provided when it is needed most, regardless of where the customer lives,” he said.
SB 227 requires employers in the retail, restaurant, hotel, or long-term care facilities with 25 or more employees or franchisees to post employee schedules 14 days in advance.
Employers who fail to comply face significant civil penalties.
The bill also requires employers to provide estimated weekly hours to employees and penalizes employers for hiring new employees unless they are fulfilling shift estimates to existing employees.
Gjede said the new administrative burdens will leave employers, particularly small businesses, unable to respond to fluctuating customer demands or inclement weather.
The Labor Committee approved a similar measure on a 9-4 vote last year, but the bill was never called for a vote in the state Senate.
HB 5273 mandates that call centers with 50 or more employees give the state Department of Labor 100 days notice of plans to relocate employees out of state.
The bill calls for a penalty of $10,000 for each day less than 100 days notice—20 times the penalty imposed by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires 60 days notice of layoffs or plant closings.
Gjede asked committee members “does legislation like this do more to stop businesses from leaving the state, or prevent new ones from coming?”
“Have we reached the point in Connecticut that we now have to impose civil penalties on businesses leaving our state?” he asked.
“Would it not be more effective to continue to improve our economic and business climate so that businesses can afford to stay and grow here?”
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