Connecticut's Judiciary Committee this week approved a proposal (SB 913) to make this the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave.

Although scores of employers repeatedly explained to legislators how harmful this mandate will be, the bill was approved by a 21-15 vote.  Next stop for the bill is either the Appropriations Committee or the full Senate.

What it mandates

SB 913 is a costly, one-size-fits-all proposal that 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. The bill’s proponents ultimately want to expand the mandate to all Connecticut companies, not just those with 50 or more employees.

What it costs

A company of 50 employees with an average wage of $10 per hour faces an additional cost of $20,000 per year, if mandatory paid sick leave passes. At an average wage of $20 per hour, the cost escalates to $40,000 per year.

There are other costs, too. Faced with these additional expenses, employers have told lawmakers  that they will be forced to reduce employee wages, benefits and other forms of compensation. 

They certainly will be discouraged from adding jobs that would put their companies over the 50-employee threshold, and some may also have to reduce jobs.

Ultimately, SB 913 will boomerang on workers throughout the state, especially those employed in small businesses.

What about jobs?

Everyone said this year’s Job No. 1 was creating jobs and improving Connecticut’s economy. But the state’s jobs situation is still very discouraging. The Department of Labor reports an estimated 6,000 jobs lost in March. The state’s unemployment rate also is back to 9.1%, higher than the national rate of 8.8%.

It’s troubling that the legislature continues to pursue the proposal that puts a significant cost burden on employers struggling to survive the recession.

What New York City decided

When New York City policymakers learned it would cost employers there $789 million per year, they decided not to pursue the paid sick leave mandate and jeopardize jobs.

What others say

In an editorial earlier this month, The Hartford Courant wrote, “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.”

What it says about CT

Long before the severe recession, huge state budget deficits, high unemployment and staggering job losses, Connecticut was already one of the highest-cost states in which to do business.

Mandating paid time off only makes matters worse. It signals to employers in other states that Connecticut is unfriendly to business.

CBIA appreciates the efforts of its members who have contacted lawmakers to urge them to reject SB 913. We continue to encourage legislators to reject this proposal as too costly for Connecticut jobs. No other state has mandated paid sick leave. Connecticut should bow out of the race to be first.