Sent in from an RHUer:
From USA TODAY:
A growing number of cities and states are starting to require employers to provide paid sick leave.
Jersey City's Earned Sick Time Ordinance goes into effect Jan. 24. New York City's Earned Sick Time Act – passed in June when the City Council overrode a veto by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg – goes into effect April 1.
They join such cities as Portland, Ore., where paid sick leave rules went into effect Jan. 1; Seattle, where paid sick leave rules went into effect Sept. 1, 2012; Washington in 2008; and San Francisco, which passed such regulations in 2006 and implemented them in 2007.
"You have a lot of working single parents (in Jersey City), and it's an issue I've believed in for a long time," Mayor Steven Fulop said. "This is a big deal. You have to give people an opportunity to be productive in the workforce without choosing between their families and their employer.
"Our hope is it spreads beyond just Jersey City," Fulop said, pointing to similar legislation the Newark City Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday.
The Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research estimates that upward of 40% of private sector workers in the USA don't receive any paid sick leave.
Business groups are concerned about reduced productivity and increased costs. In a letter to Jersey City officials in September, just before the City Council approved the measure, New Jersey Business & Industry Association Assistant Vice President Stefanie Riehl warned that such requirements "will instead result in fewer raises, fewer bonuses, reduced hours or even layoffs."
"Countless businesses are already operating on extremely tight budgets and cannot afford to add to their payroll by paying double wages," she said. "This is a zero sum game."
Kathryn Wylde, CEO of Partnership for New York City, a non-profit economic development organization, said the problem of workers not having access to paid sick leave "is not as pervasive ... as advocates have made it out to be. It's not that the problem doesn't exist — it certainly does."
However, Wylde said, most employers want to accommodate their employees. The types of businesses that typically don't offer paid sick leave — ranging from small construction companies to restaurants and beauty shops — often have their own alternatives such as shift swapping, Wylde said. "This is the kind of problem that doesn't lend itself to that kind of one-size-fits-all approach," she said.
Sick leave laws typically set up a formula by which workers earn paid sick leave. In both New York City's and Jersey City's cases, workers would earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, with a cap of five total sick days. The proposed Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act before the Iowa state Legislature would have workers earn five hours of sick time for every 40 hours of work, up to a 144-hour cap a year.
In 2012, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to require paid sick leave for employees. Today, similar legislation has been proposed in states from Hawaii to Florida. Such proposed rules have been introduced in North Carolina every legislative session since 2009 — though it faces an uphill battle there politically, acknowledged Sabine Schoenbach, a policy analyst with the non-profit North Carolina Justice Center.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal economic think-tank in Washington studying the economic impact of the Connecticut rules, said this month that its preliminary survey findings are that businesses in the state have seen minimal effect from the new requirements.
"If you look at across the country, the business community has expressed the same concerns that always don't bear out the way they anticipated," said Jersey City's Fulop. "This is not going to have an adverse impact."
Voters in Orange County, Fla., will vote in August on proposed paid sick leave regulations, but the results of the vote will be moot as state lawmakers passed a bill in 2013 blocking Florida's governments from implementing paid sick leave rules.
Similar legislation signed into law in 2011 in Wisconsin eliminated paid sick leave rules Milwaukee had in place.
Florida state Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said his bill was aimed at heading off a regulatory patchwork approach from one county to the next. "It'd make employers in one area potentially non-competitive with those across a local political boundary," Simmons said. A task force set up by the bill to study whether the state should have a set of minimum standards for benefits came out with a report Jan. 6 concluding Florida should not, Simmons said, adding that he had not read the report.
"The face of every business is its employees," Simmons said. "The question is how much government regulation do we impose on employers so we kill the goose that lays the golden egg?"