The state House has approved a proposal that will significantly increase workplace costs and administrative burdens, and could lead to more job losses. Now awaiting action in the Senate, HB-6187 mandates Connecticut employers of 50 or more employees to provide their hourly and non-exempt workers a mandatory minimum number of paid sick days per year.

Given the state’s economic situation and the 65,600 Connecticut jobs already lost in the past year, making sick days more important than jobs is both ill-timed and ill-advised. Residents of the state have repeatedly said that jobs are their No. 1 priority, but the legislature continues to bypass that concern with measures such as HB-6187 that will make it more difficult to retain jobs.

After a nine-hour debate and despite the concerns of many employers struggling just to stay open, HB-6187 was approved in a 88-58 vote, with a number of Democrats joining Republicans in opposing the proposal.

During the debate, House Republicans raised numerous excellent points about the negative impact this measure will have on Connecticut employers and their employees. They described the struggle facing many employers just to keep their doors open and employees employed; and how passage of this measure will make matters worse.

Language was added to the bill in an effort to address the concerns of manufacturers. Yet it remains that manufacturing companies not meeting the bill’s minimum paid sick leave requirements will have to do so.

Mandating paid sick leave is yet another example of the sharp disconnect between state lawmakers and the realities of today’s poor economy. It is a costly policy that disregards the many different types of workplaces and industries found in Connecticut and the financial health and business demands of employers.

For several months, employers have repeatedly cautioned state lawmakers that if HB-6187 is enacted, there would be swift and significant consequences for employers and employees alike. Yet advocates for the proposal ignored the fact that employees—whom lawmakers believe they are protecting—would be most at risk by its approval.

The reality is that the only way many employers can accommodate this additional unbudgeted cost is by reducing other employee benefits, wages, and in some cases, the jobs themselves. What’s more, the bill will create a huge administrative burden on employers, especially smaller ones, in managing varying amounts of time-off for their employees.

Curiously, state lawmakers found the mandate too costly for the state to afford—$1.2 million over two years—so they revised the bill to reduce its fiscal impact on government. But they turned a blind eye to the huge impact it will have on municipalities and employers.

HB-6187 would make Connecticut the only state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave, leaving the state far less competitive. For more information, contact Kia Murrell at 860-244-1931 or kia.murrell@cbia.com.