CT on the verge of passing paid sick leave bill

Senate Bill 913 narrowly passed a vote making Connecticut one step closer to becoming the first state to force employers to furnish their employees with paid sick leave.  The law would require businesses with 50 or more employees to add to the list of benefits 1 hour of earned sick leave for every 40 hours worked to those on the payroll longer than 3 months.

This is yet another example of the government playing the game “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”.  I cannot see how this could possibly be a good idea for everyone involved.  Sure, at first glance it may seem like a victory for workers who do not currently have paid sick leave as a benefit.

This type of legislation is dangerous and counterproductive.  When you set a precedent of government intervention into business’ payrolls, what is there to stop them?  If they can sign into law paying people to not work, why cannot the government force businesses to furnish company cars?  If employees cannot afford to take unpaid sick time, then surely with these gas prices on the rise they cannot afford to fuel their cars to get to work.  Why not legislate businesses to pay for gasoline?  Or mandate child care reimbursement, day care costs are astronomical.  I was paying $1,100 per month up until 8 months ago.

When you force businesses to add to their costs via minimum wage increases and other such mandates, it adds to the bottom line just like every other increase in costs  The added cost of paying employees to stay home is money that could have been used for expansion of business, possibly hiring more workers.  This effects businesses with 50+ employees.  That’s 52 hours of paid leave per year per employee (not counting possible overtime hours that would increase the number of hours worked increasing the number of potential sick time earned).  Considering only the minimum 50 employees, the minimum number of paid leave hours for a company with 50 employees comes to 2,600 total hours of pay.  If the employee’s earn, say, $13 per hour, that’s $33,800 paid time for no work performed.  That is one full job that could have been created.  Or an expansion, or reinvestment, or even money in the employer’s pocket.  Now do the math on a business with a hundred or more employees making more than $13 per hour.  That’s a lot of spent money for no production.  Making money is not evil.  That is why we all go to work.  Businesses are in business to make money.

We cannot argue that employers would just pay their workers next to nothing if they could.  The truth is, they couldn’t even if there were no minimum wage laws.  They need workers to facilitate their goods and services.  If wages and benefits are too low, people look elsewhere for work.  Businesses compete for employees.  Wages and benefits need to be sufficient in order to recruit and retain workers.

I just cannot see how the government can justly force businesses to pay people for not working.  Why should the business owner not have a say in what benefits they are willing or able to afford to give their employees?  Employers pay what they pay.  If it is not acceptable, people can look elsewhere for work.  It may seem cold, but people need to be grown-ups and do what they have to provide.  There is far too much complaining, and not enough bootstrapping.

Comments

  1. Kelsey B says:

    “Employers pay what they pay. If it is not acceptable, people can look elsewhere for work.”

    Last fall, Motts in Pennsylvania told factory workers they all had to take a pay cuts. Why? Not Because Motts was loosing money, even during the recession they had still managed to grow and increase profits. Motts had looked into how much other factory workers in the region were making, and discovered they were paying more then the average. Employers don’t need to compete for employees, if everyone in the region treats their workers shitty employers know they won’t risk loosing their workers because the alternative is having their children starve. History is full of employers exploiting employees, that’s why there is regulations. That’s why there’s minimum wage.

    Especially with high unemployment rates, you can say look else where if you don’t like it, but the reality is there’s no where else to look at least no where that will honestly treat you any better.

    • John Barron says:

      Could you please post a link to Motts press release stating why they reduced workers pay? Can you please post any documentation that your claims about Motts is true?

      • Kelsey B says:
        • Kelsey B says:

          This article says Rochester, when I first heard about it I could have sworn it was Pennsylvania. My mistake.

        • John Barron says:

          “We offered to keep wages unchanged after three years of salary increases and, unfortunately, the union rejected this offer,” Barnes said. “As a result, we have reached an impasse in negotiations and implemented new terms that reduce wages by $1.50 an hour. Under the implemented terms, their wages are still well above the average for manufacturing jobs in the Rochester area.”

          Nothing here sounds unreasonable, unless you think businesses are obligated to never reduce wages for any reason. An idea I reject. They are still paid above the regional average, which means they have it pretty good. Sounds like employee greed. Given that Motts employees are already over paid for the region and line of work, and will still be over paid after the wage cut, I don’t see the injustice. Sure, the workers may not like it, but it’s not unjust. I’ll bet workers in Rochester are pretty eager to work for Motts. That is the competition, and Motts is winning by paying more than everyone.

          If the surrounding packaging and manufacturing plants have a need for workers and no one is applying, they raise wages and/or benefits in order to encourage applicants. it sounds like the free market is working just fine up there.

  2. Kelsey B says:

    Also, paid sick leave helps the over all work environment. If the doctor says you’re contagious and need to stay home, but you go to work because you need the money, you risk getting coworkers sick. Now all your employees are sick. They’re less productive. The ones who can afford it are taking time off. The ones who can’t are going to work and further damaging their health. It’s a safety issue. Or should the government have no say in regulating safe work conditions either?

    • If the next step of worker giveaways is a employee vehicle, you better make sure they are Chevy Volts! You don’t want the president scolding you for your entitlements not being green enough.

    • John Barron says:

      Whether someone is sick or not, getting paid to stay home and not work is not something that should be forced on businesses. If they want to offer that on their own accord, then by all means have at it. But why should the government get to impose the extra cost?

      I also find it somewhat amusing that you think the mandate wouldn’t be abused by the employees. Summer hit, people get sick, then they take time off unpaid in the winter and have no time, and these same people will be clamouring for even more paid time off because they didn’t get enough.

      • Wait? People abuse entitlements?

      • Kelsey B says:

        I find it amusing that when it comes to employors, you have all the faith in the world they’ll do the right thing, but workers… they’re all lazy whinny asses always looking for a hand out!

        Do you know a ton of people like this? Who are always trying to “work the system”? Inevitably with every policy someone lucks out, and can work the system no matter what the policy. But we have little faith in people if we act like EVRYONE is out working the system. And the people “clamouring” tend to be ACTUALLY ill individuals, not people with nothing better to do then try to come up with ideas for the government to give them money.

        And you still never addressed the safty issue. It’s a hazard to me, you, everyone when coworkers come in sick because they can’t afford to miss work. Does the employer lose out when they come into work? Sure, in productivity, but that’s nothing compared to what the sick worker and their coworkers lose out on, a healthy working enviornment. And the sick individual might be lucky enough to have a strong enough imune system to work through an illness, but that doesn’t mean his/her coworkers do. Come flue season what one person can work through can end up sending coworkers to the hospital, or if not the coworker, the coworkers family by a bug that accidentally got brought home. Not to meantion customers who may end up affected. It’s a public health issue to not provide sick days.

  3. Kelsey B says:

    “unless you think businesses are obligated to never reduce wages for any reason”

    There are plenty of acceptable reasons to reduce wages: bad economy, to save jobs. Problem is Motts didn’t have one.

    “Sounds like employee greed”
    $21 an hour before cuts. Oh yes, they’re just rolling in dough! While cutting money from employees on the bottom, they had no problem with the CEO and others having their salaries raised last year. But that’s not greed, that’s just capitalism.

    “Motts employees are already over paid for the region” Over paid? If you are paying more then anyone else is, your obviously over paying. The quanity and quality of their work didn’t pay, just the value the corporation puts on people employes did. Just treat them like Human Capital, not actual people.

    “If the surrounding packaging and manufacturing plants have a need for workers and no one is applying, they raise wages and/or benefits in order to encourage applicants.” And the fact that there’s always unemployment, and that changing jobs is ussually not something people just decide to do over night insures that raising incentives to get workers to apply for jobs is a rarity. But moving incentives the other way, when you know there’s plenty of people looking for jobs, despite you having a full capable staff, corporations have no problem doing that.

  4. John…

    When you set a precedent of government intervention into business’ payrolls, what is there to stop them? If they can sign into law paying people to not work, why cannot the government force businesses to furnish company cars?

    Slippery slope arguments may have a point, at some point, but not every point along the slope. Thus, the problem with using “slippery slope” arguments.

    Look, we all (most of us, anyway) agree that companies can’t just refuse to hire people on the basis of race – that doing so is a violation of basic human civil rights. We’ve codified that into law. We’ve “forced” companies to accept all customers, regardless of race – a restaurant can’t legally turn away a black (brown, white, purple) patron based upon his race.

    We “force” companies to treat their waste and not just dump it into streams.

    We already “force” companies to comply with a certain standard of behavior by weight of law. Most of us think this is a good thing in at least these examples I’ve offered.

    On the other hand, do we want gov’t to force companies to (just to be extreme) beat their employees who are late to work? No, of course not.

    There IS a line that can be crossed (a slope that goes too far and becomes slippery, if you will) and gov’t can’t just intervene willy nilly whenver we (“we,” the gov’t, which is us, of course) want.

    The question, then, is: Is THIS particular example of workplace intervention a reasonable defense of basic civil rights or is it more of a reach and invasive into private rights of companies?

    Fair enough?

    And, in this case, you happen to think it’s too much. It seems reasonable to me, insofar as people need jobs and yet, people DO get sick (or their children/parents/family does) and DO need to be off from work at times. I’m not fully decided on this issue, but lean towards it being more towards the reasonable end of the slope than not.

    • John Barron says:

      Dan,

      I wonder how people have been making it all these years without the imposed sick leave mandate?

      What is it about today that it is imparitive that we need to force the added expense of doing business on employers to pay employees when they don’t show up for work?

      I think if the employee’s health were the issue, a law preventing discipline for doctor confirmed illness when abscent from work would suffice. But what the people are demanding is free money.

      • Not every sickness requires a doctor’s visit, so the note thing is not a good solution.

        As to “free money,” running a business takes money (and generates money, ideally). Sure, the factory could dispose of their waste by dumping it in the stream behind their property, but “big bad mean gov’t” (ie, we the people) “force them to pay” to clean up after themselves. It’s part of doing business.

        As to the requirement that businesses provide at least some paid sick days? It just strikes me as being very much like that “forcing” of factories to clean up after themselves – just a reasonable, responsible part of doing business.

        You DO agree that we, the people, have a right to impose some costs upon businesses, don’t you? You do agree, don’t you, that we can legitimately demand that they don’t dump toxic waste, am I right?

        Assuming so, then we AGREE that there is a place for the People demanding SOME basic level of responsibility from companies. We also agree that it COULD go too far – demanding that companies buy homes for each and every employee, that would be going too far and no one disagrees with that. Fair enough?

        So, make your case. Why do you think this particular issue is more like the unreasonable “buy all employees a house” demand and less like the reasonable “don’t dump waste” demand?

        I’m not solidly sold on this legislation, I’m just saying it doesn’t sound crazy unreasonable to me, instead, it strikes me as reasonable. But I’m open to changing my mind. Make your case.

      • Kelsey B says:

        “I wonder how people have been making it all these years without the imposed sick leave mandate?”
        There’s been people not making it, and those people are now the ones looking to have this law mandated; not so they can get free money, but so they can afford to take sick days.

        “doctor confirmed illness when abscent from work”
        If you can’t afford to take time off from work, there’s a very good chance you can’t afford to take time off from work to go see a doctor (which costs even more money) to get a doctors note to confirm ones illness.

        “we need to force the added expense of doing business on employers to pay employees when they don’t show up for work?”

        Big picture: It’s part of creating a healthy work environment for all employees. We mandate businesses provide sanitation facilities (a lavatory of some type) as well. People might abuse them by taking numerous bathroom breaks or taking them to wash their hands instead of actually using the facilities, but everyone is entitled to at least a few bathroom breaks each day. Not providing bathrooms at all can not be the solution used by businesses for people abusing the right to use the bathroom, and we accept that as a necessary cost of doing business.

  5. Terrance H. says:

    I disagree with the slippery-slope argument, John.

    It’s a good thing to have on the books in case someone is actually ill. It might in fact save the taxpayers money in the long-run. If someone cannot work and is being paid by their employer, because of this legislation, then they don’t have to file for food-stamps or welfare assistance.

    I worry it may be abused, but that’s just the chance you take, I guess.

    • The issue to me is not whether paid sick leave is a good idea. I personally would like a job that had that.

      The issue is state intervention into a private agreement. Two parties, employer and employee, are making a voluntary transaction. The trade is a wage (and often benefits of some sort) for an activity. When the state imposes laws like this, they are rewriting private contracts. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

      • John…

        When the state imposes laws like this, they are rewriting private contracts. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

        John, perhaps you missed my earlier question. I was seeking to clarify that you agree that SOME “gov’t imposition” is a good and reasonable thing? I think we all agree that “forcing” companies to spend money to operate in responsible ways is a reasonable request from we, the people.

        That is, it IS a good thing to “force” companies to dispose of waste responsibly, to provide bathrooms and bathroom breaks, to observe reasonable human rights practices (ie, laws against discrimination, against slave labor, etc).

        We ALL agree that some intervention by The People is good and reasonable, don’t we?

        If so, then the disagreement is NOT “WHY is gov’t getting involved? That’s WRONG!”

        Rather, it’s more like “Sure, gov’t has a role in creating some grounds for responsible behavior, but THIS PARTICULAR instance is going to far, isn’t it?”

        Just trying to clarify. Thanks!

        • You’re not much on answering questions, are you?

          • My name isn’t John.

          • I answer lots of questions. I just get the impression by the way your questions were parsed, and given the way you argue for the benignity or moral goodness of homosexuality as being derived from the Bible; that you are going to attempt to make me differentiate between “it’s ok to regulate nuclear waste” and “it’s not ok to regulate paid sick time” and I’m not particularly in the mood to have to explain that because some regulation is necessary or appreciated, that all regulation should be. Just because I may support some regulation for specific reasons, doesn’t mean I must be ok with or submit to other regulation.

            • The reason I generally ask clarifying questions such as this is to establish common ground and general principles we agree upon. Once we have these general principles established, it becomes easier to see where we actually disagree.

              In this case for instance, it’s NOT that we disagree about gov’t having a duty to “force” companies to do something. That’s a big point because that is the language that you are using in your argument – it seems “unfair” you said to “force” companies to do something. When you frame it like that, it makes it sound like, “Well dang, he’s right. It IS unfair to force companies to do something…” until we realize that we do this all the time and it is a GOOD thing, or at least can be.

              Similarly, if I were to suggest (and I’m not) that it was ALWAYS right for gov’t to intervene, then that would be a skewed discussion.

              But once we agree upon the general principle (the People can reasonably expect companies/individuals to hold to responsible behavior that doesn’t conflict with people’s civil rights), then we can try to cipher down to what is a reasonable guideline for when we ought and ought not “force” companies to do something.

              Does that seem reasonable?

              It’s just an attempt on my part to hold positive discussions where we can find common ground and agree upon good, logical, moral principles.

            • I repeat…

              But once we agree upon the general principle (the People can reasonably expect companies/individuals to hold to responsible behavior that doesn’t conflict with people’s civil rights), then we can try to cipher down to what is a reasonable guideline for when we ought and ought not “force” companies to do something.

              Does that seem reasonable?

              I’m honestly curious, does that seem reasonable to you? Or do you think that is an unreasonable and bad way to hold conversations?

              • Dan, I get it. some regulation is somewhat necessary. It’s not like human rights violations are rampant in American workplaces, we don’t have sweatshops. Unpaid sick time does not rise to that standard of necessary intervention.

                Being not paid to not work when it is not already a negotiated aspect of the employee/employer agreement is not an injustice which requires gov’t intervention.

            • John…

              I get it. some regulation is somewhat necessary.

              Sooo, in answer to my question, you’re saying, “YES, I agree that it is reasonable to have some gov’t intervention…?” Good.

              Then you and I are IN AGREEMENT on these two points:

              1. Gov’t has a legitimate role in intervening in business on at least some level (demanding they dispose of waste properly, that they provide bathroom facilities and breaks, that they not violate human rights or civil rights, for instance)

              2. Gov’t COULD go too far in demanding too much inappropriately of business (demanding that they buy houses for all their employees, for instance).

              We agree on that much. Then, it seems to me, what criteria should we use to help delineate what is appropriate gov’t intervention and what is inappropriate?

    • I see where you are coming from Terrance, and maybe I’m too cynical having worked for the government in more than one capacity for nearly my entire time in the workforce. But I see sick time abused like you wouldn’t believe.

      It is used as just another form of vacation time. Then in the winter months people come to work all sick and hacking because they have no sick time left. It never works as intended. Where I am now, we earn 8 hours a month, and it’s difficult to find anyone with any time accumulated.

      I also tend to see it, and would argue it from Gov’s point of view. Legislation like this essentially turns your state government into a union. They have been bargaining for your wages (min. wage), they are now bargaining for benefits (mandated health care, and now paid sick leave)and if the US is anything like Europe, and at this rate… they will be bargaining for mandated vaca time like other countries.

      The whole enterprise of government intervention into how people run businesses in this manner seems wrong.

      • Terrance H. says:

        John,

        There is no doubt it is abused. I, myself, have seen it abused many times. There are people in my family who are fortunate to have jobs that offer it and guess what? They use it, most often, as vacation time.

        I don’t like the idea of the government passing this kind of legislation, but I think the idea is a fair idea – to a certain extent.

        I’m rather torn on this issue, because I think we have a responsibility to look out for the common worker, ensure a good environment to conduct good business, and also to protect small business.

        There are some small businesses (restaurants, for example) who I know cannot afford to dish out money to works who are not there to produce. I used to work for this little Ma & Pa place. It was a nice place to work, for a kid my age. The owner was quite nice and always ready to help. If you were sick, you called in and it was no big deal. But they would then be forced to call to work someone to watch your station (pizza station, salad station, dining section, wherever you worked).

        So, if that restaurant were forced to pay sick leave, it would be as if two people were working that one station, meaning the employer would be dishing out double. Is there a provision in this bill that protects small business from this type of problem?

        I guess I like the idea, but then I don’t like the idea. Plus, you guys are making good points. I’m not sure.

        • Is there a provision in this bill that protects small business from this type of problem?

          It’s limited to companies with more than 50 employees.

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