Paid Sick Leave Approved, Narrowly

03.04.2011
Issues & Policies

Despite assurances from hundreds of employers from across the state that mandating paid sick leave will cause more damage to Connecticut’s businesses, workers and fragile economy, the Labor Committee this week, in a narrow vote, approved a measure to do just that.

SB 913 currently requires employers of 50 or more hourly and nonexempt workers to provide a minimum of one hour paid sick leave for every 40 hours an employee works, but advocates want to expand the mandate to even smaller businesses.

Connecticut businesses strongly oppose SB 913 because they know the added cost of the mandate ultimately will have to be borne by employers and their workers, either through lower wages, reduced benefits, or the elimination of positions.

Still, the Labor Committee barely approved the measure on a 6-5 vote which reflects serious doubts about the bill. In an editorial this week, the Hartford Courant said “it is a very bad time for the state to impose a costly new mandate on businesses that would put any job-creating momentum at risk.” (Hartford Courant: “Paid Sick Leave Bill Isn’t Business Friendly“)

No free lunch

<p> This week, an expert on the issue from the nonprofit Employee Policies Institute told the committee that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” — that everyone will pay for it mandating paid sick leave, employers and employees alike.

Michael Saltsman of the EPI told lawmakers that employers affected by SB 913 are barely making ends meet with very slim profit margins at best. And that means “there’s not a lot of leeway for added labor costs.”

He also exposed the shortcomings of a survey that Connecticut advocates claimed showed support from employers and employees alike for San Francisco’s paid sick leave mandate.

“According to that survey… close to 30% percent of employees in the bottom fifth of earners reported layoffs or reduced hours at their place of work after passage of the paid sick leave mandate,” Saltsman said.

“Their research also reveals this shocking statistic: More than eight out of 10 employers in San Francisco said the paid sick leave ordinance had no effect on the number of employees who came to work sick.”

Too costly

Connecticut has already lost more than 100,000 jobs, and our prospects for getting them back get slimmer and slimmer the more legislators consider and pass harmful bills like this,” said Bonnie Stewart, CBIA vice president for Government Affairs. “This measure will raise the cost of doing business significantly for many employers and add unwarranted costs to those struggling to survive.

“Our neighboring states are expanding their way out of the recession by encouraging business development,” she added. “Connecticut’s legislature must do the same and promote economic recovery, not hinder it.”

When an employee is absent, someone else has to fill the job or provide the services–and that comes with a price in terms of time, money and management. If an employer cannot find or afford to bring in someone else to fill the absence, other employees’ workloads increase, productivity is lost and customers suffer.

Connecticut employers need the flexibility to design and implement workplace policies that balance the needs of their employees and meet the demands of their businesses.

The costs of doing business in Connecticut are already among the highest in the nation—from high wages and salaries to generous employee benefits and the energy that powers their computers and machinery.

CBIA urges state lawmakers to reject SB 913 as too costly for Connecticut.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Kia Murrell at 860.244.1931 or kia.murrell@cbia.com. See Murrell on The Real Story on Fox 61 at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 6.

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CBIA IS FIGHTING TO MAKE CONNECTICUT A TOP STATE FOR BUSINESS, JOBS, AND ECONOMIC GROWTH. A BETTER BUSINESS CLIMATE MEANS A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR EVERYONE.