Mandatory paid time off is still a very real threat to Connecticut’s economy and jobs as the General Assembly heads to its May 5 adjournment.

The major paid-time-off bill in the legislature, SB-63, was approved by the Appropriations Committee last week and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

[Contact your Senator to urge defeat of SB-63.]

Becoming the first state in the nation to mandate paid time off for employees would be a stunning step backward, given the state’s high unemployment, struggling economy and weak job-growth prospects.

Other states have avoided it just because it is a job-killer. If mandatory paid time off passes, many employers have said they will be forced to cover the extra costs by reducing employees’ benefits, cutting their hours or even eliminating positions. It’s a steep price that its political advocates seem to be willing to have someone else--employees throughout Connecticut--pay, however.

 As originally drafted, SB-63 would require all employers of 50 or more employees to provide a minimum of one hour paid time off for every 40 hours an employee works.

That would change to just service-industry employees under an amendment being proposed. These include hourly staff in the home health care industry, restaurants, building cleaners, child care workers, cashiers, housekeepers, librarians and many more occupations. (Another proposal, SB-172, would have applied mandatory paid time off just to the home healthcare industry.

Essentially, that measure has been adapted into the wider amendment being offered.) Advocates are determined to make mandatory paid time apply to all Connecticut employers and SB-63 is just the first step.

Whether it applies to all employers, or the wide range of service businesses in the state, mandatory paid time off is still wrong for Connecticut’s economy, employers and employees themselves. Individual businesses should have the discretion to develop benefits based on what they can afford to pay, and what competitive market conditions demand, in order to attract and keep qualified candidates.

More important for legislators in the few days left in the 2010 session would be to work on reducing reduce the cost of government, addressing the state’s budget deficits in a responsible way, and focusing on helping Connecticut employers create more good jobs.

CBIA urges lawmakers to reject SB-63 because it will hurt Connecticut businesses and their employees—a dangerous step in today’s poor economy.

For more information, contact  Kia Murrell at 860.244.1931 or kia.murrell@cbia.com.