Paid Sick Leave Mandate, Employer Gag Order in Senate

05.20.2011
Issues & Policies

Two of the biggest tests of whether Connecticut is really “open for business” could take place in the state Senate within the next few days.

Senate Democrats on Friday caucused on the proposals mandating paid sick leave (SB 913) and putting a gag order on employers (HB 5460), and indications are that the paid sick leave mandate could be taken up early next week.

This year, no other bills more clearly define state lawmakers’ commitment to jobs. Both, said the New Haven Register, send a chilling message to businesses: “flee or stay away from Connecticut.”

Mandatory paid sick leave and the ‘captive audience’ bill both defeat business confidence and discourage employers from creating and keeping good jobs here.

Taxing jobs

Mandatory paid sick leave significantly raises the cost of doing business for many employers and make it much harder for them to operate and succeed.

It 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 extra costs — virtually a new tax — will cause many employers to reduce other costs, such as wages, benefits, or even jobs in order to pay for it.

At the end of the week, lawmakers were amending the bill to change which employers it would impact, but the rewrite is really just an attempt to get a foot in the door. Proponents want the mandate ultimately to apply to all businesses in Connecticut.

Gag order

Captive audience is really an employer gag order that steps on the free speech rights of businesses. In the process it crushes vital employer-employee communications in the workplace.

The proposal bans employers, in required company meetings, from talking about such a wide range of topics that the bill will effectively close those meetings.

Companies that use those meetings to inform their employees, generate ideas and encourage greater teamwork will be left in the dark.

The businesses who will bear the brunt of these proposals will largely be Connecticut’s small and midsize employers—precisely the businesses that lawmakers are depending on to lead us out of the recession.

Both proposals are driven by, and would benefit, labor unions and special interest groups to the detriment of employers who grow and create jobs.

They put the interests of unions ahead of jobs at a time when Connecticut’s unemployment rate is stuck at over 9% and we are still trying to recover about 100,000 jobs lost in the recession.

“On top of higher taxes and everything else that makes Connecticut a hard place to do business,” said The Hartford Courant, “ … lawmakers at the state Capitol have introduced legislation to make it even harder.”

Concludes the Courant:  “State lawmakers “should just say no to … [this] jobs-killing legislation.”

Squeezed on costs and pressed by new mandates, many employers won’t be able to create jobs or increase their investment in their operations and workforces — exactly the kind of consequences lawmakers should be taking great pains to avoid.

“It's a bad time — while the recession still lingers — for the legislature to pile on business,” says The Hartford Courant.

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